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Chapter 129: Army
Zhang Yi’s short sword was soaked with blood. While he had managed to fend off Xia Song’s “Heaven and Earth in Harmony” using two consecutive White Goat Hanging Horn, the great force had cracked his palm.
Yet, he still tightly gripped the small sword so hard that blood squeezed through his fingers.
His short sword appeared even rougher and lusterless on the surface after stopping. It even looked grainy as though it was ordinary stone.
Looking at the small short sword, and hearing Xu Lianhua’s questions, Ding Ning nodded calmly.
“I thought that Cave Master Xue would pass this sword to you,” Xu Lianhua said seriously after a moment of silence.
Ding Ning glanced at him and said, “Senior Sect Brother is kinder and steadier than I. Of course the sword passes to him.”
As the two of them talked, Xia Song fell heavily to the ground, and could no longer stand up. But the amazement of many people was just starting.
Zhang Yi’s tightly gripped small sword was the lifebond sword of Xue Wangxu which had stunned all of Changling. While the true power contained in the sword had dissipated with the death of its master, and it once again became an inanimate object, this sword had many complementary aspects with White Goat Cave’s sword manuals after Xue Wangxu’s lifetime. At least, in terms of using the White Goat Hanging Horn, there likely was no sword more suitable than this one.
The outlook on Zhang Yi in Changling was not high, but now the sword had not appeared in Ding Ning’s hand but his.
The watching students and cultivation teachers thought back to every moment of the battle. They thought of how Zhang Yi had stopped after gaining the advantage. Zhang Yi seemed to have been waiting for Xia Song to attack in a fit of fury. He would only have been able to use two consecutive White Goat Hanging Horn moves with both hands in such a short time if he had planned for it. So, Zhang Yi’s pause and waiting was not because of his indecisive and kind personality. Even after the decisive victory, the close combat ability Zhang Yi displayed far surpassed Xia Song.
All of this caused the watching students to realize that Zhang Yi was not as weak as they imagined… their opinions had been because of his humility and low-key nature.
At this time, the student who had sneered and asked what Zhang Yi had been waiting for finally realized why he had felt something was wrong.
Xia Song had said Zhang Yi was proud. But thinking back to it, from the beginning of the trials to now, even after defeating the eleventh-ranking Xia Song, Zhang Yi only had an apologetic look in his eyes, and never pride in his expression.
From a certain perspective, Zhang Yi was not a hidden expert. The lifebond sword that Xue Wangxu had left him was not of decisive effect. Thus, all the students felt inexplicably cold.
Zhang Yi slowly put away the sword in his left hand. Looking at Xia Song who was coughing blood on the ground, he was extremely apologetic. He could not help but bow, and say seriously, “Apologies… I have never looked down upon you, and never thought I could defeat you with one blow.”
Even though Xia Song knew that Zhang Yi was sincerely apologizing, he felt even more humiliated and threw up another mouthful of blood.
“A group of strong people is more terrifying than one person being strong,” Jing Liuli said to Tantai Guanjian behind her. Her gaze fell towards the tent in the distance where Palace Attendant Rong was. She said in slight disdain, “Even Sect Uncle Lin feels that the trials will become more interesting. I want to see how that person prepares to end this.”
While Ding Ning’s side had Nangong Caishu and Xia Wan eliminated, after Zhang Yi defeated Xia Song, Ding Ning’s side looked stronger.
Seeing Zhang Yi return to Ding Ning’s side, a rare smile once again appeared on Li Suixin’s lips.
Just like Jing Liuli had said, because he felt the trials were growing more interesting, he chose to have Nangong Caishu, Zhang Yi, and Xia Wan fight after Ding Ning defeated Zhou Wangnian in a blow.
This kind of arrangement did have some intentions of suppressing the atmosphere that Ding Ning had created. He had done so because he wanted to see how Ding Ning would recover after the momentum he had created was destroyed.
The two camps on the two sides of the hut were the same as two armies at a standstill. He wanted to see Ding Ning’s ability as a leader. Now, even Zhang Yi and the others revealed strength that surprised him. Since he now saw clearly, he would make some compensation to make the trials more fair. Hence, he did not even look down at the scroll in his hand as he spoke.
Gasps sounded again before people even recovered from their shock.
“Against Zong Jingqiu.” Lin Suixin flipped through the scroll casually and recited the first name he saw.
“Time for me to appear.”
Hearing his name, Dugu Bai only glanced at Ding Ning and the others, spoke calmly and then started to walk towards the returning Zhang Yi.
Before this last event started, he had focused on making many wooden swords. Right now, these swords were piled up by his feet like firewood. He did not even take along these swords.
His opponent, a youth in blue robes, was as white as snow, and on the verge of tears.
Dugu Bai had never fought in Changling, yet before the Book of Talents were published, everyone in Changling thought that Dugu Bai was the first in the Book of Talents. While Lie Yinghong ended up being first, Lie Yinghong had been defeated in the sea of brambles, so Dugu Bai was first on the Book of Talents.
Zong Jingqiu, who came from Jade Toad Monastery, was ranked in the thirties. He had an injury on his left hand, and was unable to move well. In everyone’s view, this battle’s disparity was too great.
Dugu Bai and Zhang Yi exchanged nods. He continued to advance into the spot where Zhang Yi and Xia Song had fought.
Seeing his opponent who was struggling to walk over and looked like he was about to cry, Dugu Bai thought for a moment, and said, “You are seriously injured. I will only attack once. If you are able to fend it off, I will admit defeat.”
“Just one attack?”
Zong Jingqiu was stunned and looked up in disbelief. Hope once again appeared in his eyes.
“This is too arrogant.” Xia Wan could not help but frown and speak.
She did not doubt Dugu Bai’s strength. She was certain that Dugu Bai would have the strength to defeat Zhong Jingqiu at ordinary times, but after saying such a thing, Zong Jingqiu did not have to think, and just needed to focus on defending. His injuries were not light, but he would not have problems using a defensive sword form. In her view, Dugu Bai’s action was too dangerous, and unnecessary.
“He wants to attack the morale on the other side..”
Hearing Xia Wan’s words, Zhang Yi explained softly as he walked back. “Just now, when my Junior Sect Brother defeated Zhou Wangnian, it greatly impacted their morale. If he also defeats his opponent with one attack, those people will be more nervous. Too much pressure, too much nerves, they will make more mistakes.”
The words were not hard to understand. Xia Wan’s frown relaxed. She looked at Zhang Yi’s gentle features and nodded. “Your junior sect brother is correct. Zhang Yi, you are stronger than we imagined.”
“No, no.” Zhang Yi immediately flushed and shook his head.
“There must be a prerequisite to being stronger than we imagined, only when you are not being sentimental.” Seeing Zhang Yi like this, Xu Lianhua immediately smiled mockingly and snorted. “Truthfully, I am surprised you were not sentimental in the battle against Xia Song.”
Zhang Yi bowed his head in shame. “Just now, Little Sect Brother reminded me, and Miss Xia let me win to go into the next round. If I lost a battle due to my sentimentality, I would disappoint Miss Xia.”
“So it is because of Xia Wan.” Xu Lianhua laughed.
“I… this…” Zhang Yi stilled. He felt it was not correct, but did not know how to explain. His face flushed red.
Xia Wan also blushed slightly and glared at Xu Lianhua.
“We all know Dugu Bai is strong, but how strong will depend on this attack,” Xu Lianhua turned and his expression rapidly turned stern as he said gravely.
Xia Wan’s attention was also moved. Her pupils unconsciously contracted as Dugu Bai started to draw his sword.