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Chapter 100: Cautiousness and Daring
On the cliff, among the people watching the sword trial, this was a middle-aged official with a beautiful beard dressed in blue robes.
Seeing Ding Ning step into the green palace, the thin advisor next to him seemed extremely happy. He said in a soft and excited voice, “Official Sikong, there is only the last event left.”
Ding Ning had suffered serious injury in the sea of red brambles, and Lie Yinghong, who was ranked first on the Book of Talents, had been eliminated. Adding on the terrifying ability Ding Ning evinced in using the sword, this advisor, as cunning and experienced as he was, thought that Ding Ning’s likelihood of winning the competition was great.
In this advisor’s view, Ding Ning wanting to be first was just a contest of will. His talent had likely already received the favor of many people in Min Mountain Sword Sect. If he entered the top ten, he would receive an opportunity to study in Min Mountain Sword Sect, and may even be taught by some legendary people. By then, this youth with too much inner energy, may be able to live longer. Their attention to this youth, and even what could be called their investment, would have a return.
Yet, compared to his joy, the middle-aged bearded official next to him, the Vice Bureau Chief Sikong Lian of the Bureau Chief seemed more melancholic.
Sikong Lian shook his head slightly and said softly, “You do not understand her enough.”
The advisor stilled and then realized who the “she” Sikong Lian spoke of was. His body immediately turned cold and stiff.
“She will never put all her eggs into one basket. In the past campaigns against the Han, Wei, and Zhao, in the battles she commanded, even though she would have made hundreds of simulations, and it is as safe as a snake swallowing a frog, she would leave behind powerful cards up her sleeve. She only has a different status now. If one looks closely, they will find that she has been victorious in all her battles as a general, she has never lost.”
Sikong Lian took a deep breath and said slowly, “Everyone can guess that Lie Yinghong is one of hers, so Lie Yinghong is not the one she is relying on. Ignoring her habits… Most importantly, who in the world does not know her coldness?”
“Palace Attendant Rong works for her. Since Palace Attendant Rong has expressed the intentions that Ding Ning should not pass, then the people who will stop Ding Ning from winning will not just be who Palace Attendant Rong has arranged, and also not her trump cards.”
Pausing, Sikong Lian’s voice grew colder. “Many will obey her intentions and complete a matter like this for her. Her coldness is not just to make people feel that not opposing her is good, but to make them feel if they do not help her, they will be harshly punished.”
The thin advisor felt colder. This was a basic problem of numbers.
When fewer people were on one side, in the following one-on-one sword battles, one would experience more vicious fights.
Some students, that originally had no hope of advancement, would fight with their lives against Ding Ning due to the intentions that Palace Attendant Rong had expressed. Ding Ning did not have many people on his side to start with. Especially when in the eyes of most people, the people standing on his side would have a difficult time passing this test.
Ding Ning walked into the green palace which did not have any furnishings. There was only a stone path covered in moss winding upwards in the center of the hall. A cool breeze flowed down along the path.
Ding Ning walked slowly up the path and took a long time to reach the exit.
The night was dark.
Outside the exit was the mountain valley they had previously eaten in. Some oil lamps were lit up inside the crude huts.
The light of the oil lamp illuminated his body and cast a forlorn shadow.
Ding Ning, dragging his lonely shadow, walked into the hut. The dishes inside the hut had been cleaned up. There was only some ordinary gauze on the table and some small but sharp steel needles.
Ding Ning took a steel needle and burned it on the flame of the oil lamp for a few moments. Wiping away the remnants of smoke, he started to carefully pry the broken thorns all over his body.
Jing Liuli’s figure appeared on the cliff he could not see. She stared at Ding Ning for a long time, the admiration in her eyes growing deeper.
The more the thorns were picked out, the less burden there would be on the body in the future battles and the easier it would be to move. Also, if these thorns stayed longer, it would cause infection and other illnesses.
However, the process of picking out these thorns was not an easy one. It took great effort to pick out the thorns, especially when the body was extremely tired. Picking out thorns would be tiring. Each time the needle landed, it would remind the body how painful that part of the body was. The constant pain would greatly expend energy.
Yet, Ding Ning was without any anxiousness. He was extremely careful.
While Jing Liuli could not see clearly, she could imagine the thorns falling off the needle and piling up on the table in front of him.
In the darkness, Geng Ren’s silent gaze was upon Ding Ning. He too did not mask his admiration of this youth. There may not even be one student in many years who entered the sight of Min Mountain Sword Sect members like them and caught their attention.
However, Geng Ren did not disguise his worry either. He was also worried about the problem of numbers in the end.
There were not enough people on Ding Ning’s side, and the rules were the rules. Since the rules of the sword trial were set, then even Jing Liuli, who set the rules, could not change them.
The night was deep.
Most of the cultivators watching from the cliff were not resting. Even the teachers of the students who had been eliminated were still paying close attention to each part of the sea of red brambles.
Of the three White Goat Cave disciples, Shen Yi was eliminated, and other than Ding Ning, only Zhang Yi was left.
In the eyes of almost all these teachers, Zhang Yi was in a bad situation.
Unlike most students, Zhang Yi did not choose to walk in the stream or along the shore. Instead, he moved through the brambles. He was not as fast as Lie Yinghong and did not have the skill to weave armor. But he also did not want more thorns stuck in his body, which would increase his injuries and make him weaker.
So, he chose to swing his sword as he advanced.
The sword he held was the hottest sword from the Zhao Sword Furnace. The powerful heat that it naturally gave off caused the brambles in front of him to become dry and fragile. It could be said that this sword was the most suitable one to create a path.
His movements were extremely swift. He used his fastest speed to pass through the sea of brambles.
It would be tiring for a swordsman to quickly swing his sword, even if the opponent was only flora, and did not need to use vital energy.
Zhang Yi, at this time, was sore all over. Waves of tiredness battered him, it was especially hard for him to withstand. The sword in his hand was as heavy as a mountain and grew increasingly heavy.
Even more importantly, Zhang Yi could sense unusual vibrations coming from the surrounding wilderness.
The vibrations from the ground, the breeze blowing past his body, the coolness and the unusual turbulence all reminded him that this deep red sea of brambles that appeared to be peaceful already had many changes that he did not want to see but would quickly face.
He was usually polite and restrained. In the eyes of many, he was quite sentimental and indecisive. Yet, any teacher of White Goat Cave familiar with him knew that he was just as smart as Ding Ning.
From the start, he had also seen that the stream water was too still and contained too many dangers. So he chose to make a path through the brambles. At the same time, due to the fact there was no time limit on this event, he deduced that even if he was cautious and hid his tracks to carefully pass through, there would be things that find him. So he maintained his fastest possible speed to pass through this sea of brambles.
But this sea of brambles was too large and had a formation so he could not accurately advance in a straight path. Until now, he had not directly encountered any dangers. In his eyes, the green palaces were still far off and there were terrifying changes occuring in the surrounding wilderness.
His feeling was that students were already eliminated.
At the same time, his intuition was that these terrifying things were starting to hunt students like him.
Sensing the terrifying noise coming from the surroundings, Zhang Yi looked at his hands that were trembling even when relaxed, just like old people. He took a deep breath, stilled for a moment, and then did something that most teachers on the cliff could not imagine.
He used his longsword to clean out an area that a person could lay down in. Then he flattened the ground with the sword, drying out the earth until it became hard dry ground. Then he laid down, rubbed his sore right arm for a few moments and then closed his eyes to sleep.
“What is he doing?”
“Even if he is extremely tired, how can he sleep in this situation?”
“Has he not sensed the movements of the insects at all?”
Some of the teachers did not understand what he was doing at the start. After confirming that he quickly sank into slumber, multiple people could not help but exclaim in puzzlement.
A voice that was extremely gentle and pleasing to hear sounded by the side of the cliff.
Huang Zhenwei, dressed in yellow court robes, shook his head emotionally. “Very daring.”
His status in Changling was extremely noble and not many people were standing around him. But everyone who heard his words could hear that his words were of praise and not rebuke.
Tantai Guanjian was standing on the top of one of the green palaces in the sea of brambles. He saw Zhang Yi’s action and became a bit emotional.
These students of White Goat Cave were very interesting. Even Zhang Yi, said to be the most restrained and indecisive, was very unusual.
Zhang Yi slept sweetly. Because he was so tired, he even started to snore… He just slept, without doing anything, but even as he slept, he attracted the gazes of many people on the cliff.
There was one imperial insect swarm that had consumed the black ice worms moving through the brambles near him like cavalry. At their closest point to him, they were only half a mile away. If they discovered Zhang Yi’s existence, he would be seriously injured in his sleep and eliminated.
And yet, Zhang Yi won his gamble.
This imperial insect swarm brushed past him.
After sleeping heavily for four hours, Zhang Yi opened his eyes and woke up.
Translator Ramblings: Zhang Yi goes to take a nap … with worms and insects all around. Great daring there.