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Chapter 118: A Lusterless Black Sword
The sun was about to set on the horizon. At the time, the clouds in the sky were so red they seemed to be lit up.
All of the students, even those with serious injuries, stood up because the last event was about to start.
Xie Rou looked at Ding Ning’s profile. She noticed his eyes were lit up. The sky behind him darkened. She looked down, and saw her shadow was behind his shadow like a faint pair of wings.
She increasingly felt that she was not someone in Ding Ning’s world, and at this time, she felt even if she was only a hidden pair of wings behind him, she would do all she could.
“Everyone, in their lives, would have a stage where they will protect and be unwilling to obey.”
Palace Attendant Rong walked out of her tent, and next to the yellow-robed middle-aged man who stood with his head hung low. She looked at the scarlet clouds and said coldly, “I am just teaching them to accept fate.”
“The mountains are high and low, and so are people. The mountains that are short want to compete with taller mountains. Other than wasting effort in vain, this will displease themselves and others. Being exiled for a dog represents justice in children’s eyes, but stupidity in an adult’s eyes.”
The middle-aged man listened to Palace Attendant Rong without any discontent and objection in his eyes. He also felt that Palace Attendant Rong spoke the truth. He had once had a stage of unwillingness but he accepted fate now.
If people accepted fate, they would not feel much discontent, yet the hardest thing in life was to accept fate.
Among the many officials who had entered the mountain valley, Bureau Chief Sikong Lian of the Bureau of Ceremonies looked at Ding Ning and the others with bright eyes.
Tantai Guanjian appeared silently behind Jing Liuli.
“This time’s sword competition may be the most spectacular and fierce in history,” Tantai Guanjian shook his head and said emotionally as he looked at the students standing on the two sides of the hut.
Jing Liuli also nodded, expressing her agreement to his opinions. But she showed no pride. The main reason was that the youth from the poor alley and lowly cultivation place was unwilling to accept fate.
“Cheng Dong, come.”
A shout appeared abruptly in the valley.
The student who heard his name shook, and looked towards the Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator who had shouted.
“Facing Zhong Kui.”
This student and the surrounding people only understood when this Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator spoke again that the final competition had started without any opening remarks.
“This is not fair!”
In the moment of understanding, the student whose name had been mentioned first shouted, at a loss.
Many people felt the same.
This student called Cheng Dong came from Secret Stone Daoist School. In the Book of Talents, his newest ranking was forty first. His opponent, Zhong Wei, came from Jingnian Sword School, and was ranked twenty first on the Book of Talents. There was a great disparity in cultivation, especially when Cheng Dong had a serious injury on the side of his left leg. His movements were hampered and violent movements could cause serious bleeding. On the other side, Zhong Wei was only lightly injured.
“Why is this unjust?”
Hearing Cheng Dong’s dazed shouted, the Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator who had announced the match glanced expressionlessly at him and slowly said, “The matches are random. The difference in cultivation is due to daily cultivation. The wounds you have were left by the previous event. Do you feel that the sword trial will only have the last event, and the previous events will not count?”
“If you feel it is unjust, you can give up,” the Min Mountain Sword Sect said emotionlessly after a pause.
Cheng Dong’s face was as pale as snow. But when he heard these words, he could not muster any argument.
The other students maintained their silence.
This match had been randomly selected by this Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator. There were naturally many things worthy of being pondered and doubted here, especially when these were forty five students who had passed. With the one-on-one matches, someone would have one less match and have a great advantage.
Yet, this was Min Mountain Sword Sect’s trials, and the rules of Min Mountain Sword Sect. Just like this Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator had said, if one felt this was unjust, there was no other solution except withdrawing.
“Sun Changzhi facing Zeng Kaitian.”
“Nie Yan facing Mo Yu.”
The Min Mountain Sword Sect announcer had no interest in observing the expressions of Cheng Dong and the others as he continued to speak.
Hearing his announcement, all the students had different reactions and expressions. Some were calm, sneering, forcing smiles, or pale. Some more attentive students realized that there were eight places marked out by the sword marks.
“Huang Jinlian facing Xie Rou.”
Just like these students had expected, this Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator stopped talking after announcing eight matches. Then he pointed casually towards the eight places, indicating the pairs that had been called could enter the field.
After looking towards where the Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator pointed and the fields about to sink into darkness, almost all the students looked towards Xie Rou.
The reason was simple.
While everyone wanted to see Ding Ning’s fight the most, among the first sixteen to fight, Xie Rou was the only one on Ding Ning’s side, and standing on the other side of the hut.
Xu Lianhua and the others had serious expressions.
Huang Jinlian was ranked seventeenth on the Book of Talents. Xie Rou had not cultivated in Changling and was not ranked at all in the Book of Talents.
In the eyes of most students, she and Xie Changsheng were the same. They had relied on the Xie Family’s riches and shady tactics to qualify for the Min Mountain Sword Trials.
Xie Rou had not expected to be the first cultivator on this side to fight. Under everyone’s gazes, she started to grow nervous, and her right hand trembled as she held her sword.
The black longsword in her hand shook along with her hand.
Seeing this black longsword that looked the same as any of the Qin longswords, most students felt she had no chance to win.
But no one noticed that a teacher standing not far behind Huang Jinlian in a similar uniform changed expression suddenly. He had not expected that Huang Jinlian would fight Xie Rou and he thought of some scenes from the sea of brambles.
He opened his mouth, not able to stop himself from wanting to speak.
But in this moment, a Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator appeared in front of him.
This Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator came from the side, and was standing with his back to him. But the cultivator who had wanted to speak and warn Huang Jinlian suddenly realized something and closed his mouth, his face pale.
The trial had begun. Based on Jing Liuli’s rules, he could not speak of any warnings now.
Xie Rou took a deep breath and prepared to enter the field.
Ding Ning had a calm expression and nodded at her.
With this simple movement, Xie Rou suddenly felt a great confidence.
Her sword-holding hand stopped trembling.
Huang Jinlian had already walked ahead towards one of the spaces marked by the sword marks. He was tall and had a cold gaze that stared calmly ahead, exuding a feeling that he was a general of an army.
The Iron Screen Sword School he studied at liked to send students to the battlefield. According to some trusted sources, Huang Jinlian and some of the students of the Iron Screen Sword School had even participated with the Qin Army taking back Yangshan Commandery before the Deer Mountain Conference. Compared to Xie Rou, he was confident from the start. So, he did not even look back at his teacher, and did not detect that a Min Mountain Sword Sect cultivator was deliberately standing in front of his teacher.
He had the manners of a Changling cultivator. He did not walk towards the closest battlefield to him, but the one closest to Xie Rou.
When Xie Rou walked in front of him and stopped, he held his sword horizontally across himself and nodded in greeting.
At the time, most of the other pairs had reached their spots. But because of the special meaning in this battle, most people were focused on him and Xie Rou.
The sky was dark and Min Mountain Sword Sect did not appear to have any intentions of lighting any fires for illumination. But when Huang Jinlian pulled out his sword, the battlefield, dozens of feet in diameter, lit up.
Huang Jianlian’s sword was completely golden that shone with light. The seals on the blade formed seven shining marks of light as his vital energy surged.
This was the Seven Luminaries Sword.
It had been the sword of the master of the famed cultivation place, Seven Luminaries Palace, in the former Han.
This was another good sword from the sword valley that Huang Jinlian selected.
Xie Rou also raised her sword.
Her black sword appeared lusterless under the shining light of her opponent’s sword.
Yet, for some inexplicable reason, Huang Jinlian’s eyelids jumped uncontrollably and he felt a dangerous presence.