This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 99: First Again
Lie Yinghong’s vital energy was above realm four second class and he was faster at killing the imperial insects. The scene of him slaughtering the imperial insects looked more ferocious and stunning, but in Jin Liuli’s eyes, compared to Ding Ning before him, Lie Yinghong’s movements were too unpracticed in the formation. He was not efficient enough, and wasted unncessary energy and vital energy. Even if there were half the number of imperial insects surrounding him, he may not be able to fight his way out.
Lie Yinghong was much stronger than Shen Yi and Xie Changsheng. The sword he possessed was called the Whale Swallow Sword. It was a famed sword, and had some special abilities. Xie Changsheng had been unable to fend off even one of Lie Yinghong’s blows, but with his tactics, he forced Lie Yinghong into such a situation.
In the world of cultivators, especially in terms of victory and life and death, one did not care about the process, just the results.
Xie Changsheng had achieved his result, and forced her to change her opinion. On the cliff behind her, some of the cultivation teachers saw Lie Yinghong fighting the imperial insects and grew more anxious. Some people finally could not stand it. One old person dressed in purple robes embroidered with moon and stars was the first to say angrily, “These insects are equivalent to a realm three second class cultivators. If Lie Yinghong, who is first on the Book of Talents, will be seriously injured and defeated here, this competition is too difficult and meaningless.”
Many people agreed with this old person, but some had different opinions.
As this old person finished speaking, a cold snort sounded.
“If you have objections towards the rules of the sword trials, then you can choose to not participate. These insects are only equal to a realm three second class cultivator, not a realm five cultivator who can kill these students with one blow. Also, one does not need to purely rely on cultivation to pass this test. Previously, Xie Changsheng thought of a way to escape the pursuit of these insects. This is just a problem of a person’s approach, yet you categorize it to the competition being meaningless. You are just one who cannot swim yet scorn the swimsuit for being too large.”
These words, in both content and tone, were rude. The old person in purple robes embroidered with moon and star patterns was naturally angry. He turned around, wanting to argue with the speaker. But when he saw the speaker was a middle-aged man dressed in blue robes, he stilled, and swallowed the words about to leave his mouth.
The middle-aged horse-faced man in blue robes was Lu Chenli of Nether Sword Sect. He was from Guanzhong. Many exceptional young people from Guanzhong, who were poor or came from poverty before they became cultivators or joined the army, would receive the Xie Family’s help to come to Changling and make a living. So many cultivators from Guanzhong were respectful of the Xie Family.
Criticizing the battle at this moment was akin to criticizing the victory that Xie Changsheng likely won with his life. This old person’s cultivation was about the same as Lu Qingli but Lu Qingli was younger, and much more energized. If they really fought, he would be more likely to lose, and also attract the anger of many cultivators from Guanzhong.
This old person did not speak. Lu Qingli slowly narrowed his eyes and said coldly, “Previously, when Ding Ning was facing these insects, no one objected. I fear you speaking up now is too late.”
The people on the cliff sank into silence. The old person in purple robes did not feel any extra anger, but a hint of coldness.
Everybody could hear that Lu Qingli’s words were not pointed towards him, but the person who had ordered Lie Yinghong.
Many here came from Jiaodong Commandery and had received the favor of the palace. They cared most about the thoughts of the mistress of the palace. There were many more of them compared to the cultivators who felt sympathy for White Goat Cave’s situation. Yet, a fight between those who cared for their lives and those who did not had nothing to do with numbers.
Amid the deathly silence, Lu Qingli’s eyes narrowed even more until they formed thin blades. He looked towards the green palace that Xie Changsheng was in and took a deep breath. At the same time, he thought coldly inside, the person who had ordered Lie Yinghong to do what he did better pray that Xie Changsheng could live. Otherwise, they would pay a great price.
He did not care whether Xie Changsheng had chosen this himself. He only cared that some matters could not overstep their limits.
Order Xue Wangxu to die at the start of Min Mountain Sword Trials, order Lie Yinghong to pursue and kill Ding Ning’s good friends. In the eyes of many, this was overstepping.
The curtain to the tent trembled violently and blew outwards.
Palace Attendant Rong possessed more real power than many officials, but her identity was a palace attendant. So, at this time, she could not be seen in public and had to stay in the tent and listen to the reports.
Hearing the response from the yellow-robed middle-aged man, her features grew shadows. The surrounding air was compressed by the energies she exuded and bulged out.
She was a person who was working for another. She was not fighting for her own glory and honor. So when doing these things, she could ignore everybody’s opinion and not even care how they insulted her. Yet, she could not allow herself to fail.
Lie Yinghong was the most important piece in her hand. Yet, who would have thought that this piece would be defeated in the hands of Xie Changsheng, a Guanzhong youth that could have been completely dismissed?
Thinking of how this matter would cause those proud youths to grow prouder and not learn a lesson, her expression grew uglier.
The limbs of the imperial insects and shattered ice were strewn over the ground, making it difficult for Lie Yinghong to set a foot down.
After a short ten breaths, he already had dozens of wounds on his body, one of them terribly deep.
In the eyes of those not fighting, his result was fated. And yet, he did not want to give up.
He screamed harshly. A green light appeared eerily in his eyes. The Whale Swallow Sword suddenly gave off thousands of rays of green light.
These green lights seemed to spread apart like tree branches and flickered out.
Bone-aching cracking sounds occurred in the air.
This sound included carapace splitting apart, bones breaking, and flesh tearing apart.
With him as the center, dozens of imperial insects exploded in the same moment, turning into irregular pieces of flesh.
In the next moment, his leather boots also seemed to give an explosive sound. He charged out madly like an uncontrolled carriage towards the small stream that Xie Changsheng had previously fallen into.
Yet, at this moment, the blood inside Lie Yinghong’s body that had started to burn turned to ice. His strange green pupils were covered by a dark shadow. A stubborn figure, also covered in blood like him, held a sword that consumed all light in front of him.
The Whale Swallow Sword in his hand was attracted by that unique tangling power and collided hard with the black sword.
As his vital energy instinctively surged out, a wave of energy exploded between the two swords. His body was forced three steps back, and the figure charging towards him was thrown backwards by this blow.
The obstruction in this moment was enough to destroy Lie Yinghong’s last hope. As the blackness dissipated in front of his eyes, there were sharp sounds occurring all around him once again.
The sky above him was torn apart by dozens of racing and leaping imperial insects.
Many of the teachers watching on the cliff saw that figure thrown back into the brambles, their emotions were stirred again.
“Xue Wangxu has a good student.”
Someone could not help but sigh.
The person who had been thrown back into the brambles and received countless wounds was Shen Yi. His strike had used up all his power. He could not even stand up at this moment.
In the eyes of these teachers on the cliff, Zhang Yi, Ding Ning, and Shen Yi were the students that counted as Xue Wangxu’s direct disciples. Someone had fallen, someone was still struggling to survive and someone had passed and was walking towards the exit. Yet, no matter if it was the fallen figure or the one still advancing, this was enough to make them feel admiration and even jealousy.
The deep red sea of brambles was quiet. Because of the separation of energies by the formation in this area, the light and air within each ten thousand foot area would be twisted. The result was that sound and energy flows were guided to certain places while the intersection and collision of energies would produce clever light that caused this plain deep within the mountain to always have a layer of warm gentle light that seemed to come from the sun.
However, Ding Ning, who had a tight grasp on the passage of time, knew it was already deep in the night.
Maybe because it was night outside the mountain, when he dragged his tired body to the green palace that Qing Yaoyin had spoken of, the wind through the open doors was slightly cold and caused waves of coldness when they blew at his sweat.
A man appeared at the door.
This man also wore the green jade robes that represented cultivators of Min Mountain Sword Sect. He held a bamboo scroll in one hand, his features were extremely gentle and elegant. He did not appear to have a sword on him and did not give off any sharp sword essence. He did not feel like a powerful swordsman, but a teacher of a school.
He looked emotionally at Ding Ning who had walked to the door and nodded in greeting, congratulating him for passing. But he could not help but whisper. “Why do this?”
Ding Ning recognized this man. He knew this man was a gentleman like Zhang Yi and he also understood this man’s goodwill.
But hearing this man’s voice, he inexplicably recalled his conversation with Zhangsun Qianxue and what she had answered.
“Because I feel this is unjust.” Ding Ning looked up at this man and calmly responded. “So, I do this.”
This man sighed but did not say anything. He moved to the side and allowed Ding Ning to pass through the doors.
Other than Jin Liuli, no one else knew that the man at the door was also a test.
This man tested one’s temperament.
So when Ding Ning stepped into this green palace, he had actually passed two tests consecutively, both in first place.
Translator Ramblings: These teachers on the cliffs have been there for more than a day and night …. not sure if the sect will provide them with food or drink or a washroom on the cliff.