The Lord of Swords

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  • Chapter 55  Elder Xu's Concern

    Standing in front of Elder Xu, Deng Baisheng and Ji Huzhen hardly dare to breathe. Both of them had seen from Elder Xu’s look that the situation must not be good.

     

    "Tell me, is there any connection between the rumor and either of you that Wei Gaoyuan of the Dark-Feather wanna challenge the disciple of Xin?" Elder Xu asked with a black face.

     

    "Master..." Ji Huzhen's expression changed at once.

     

    Deng Baisheng shook his head, "Report to master, I have few chances to talk to other disciples."

     

    "What about you?" Elder Xu looked at Ji Huxuan, coldly.

     

    Ji Huxi panicked, and he couldn't help feeling nervous about his master's staring. He was the maker of that rumor. The disgrace in the conflict within the basin made him so difficult to forget the name, Wei Gaoyuan. There was not a day when he didn't want to take revenge. But that horrible sword-strike had taught him not to confront with that dangerous boy personally. Thus, he got such a good idea, at least he thought it was, after he knew what had happened that day between Dong Feiye and Wei Gaoyuan.

     

    And so it was. This move would really force Wei Gaoyuan into a dilemma. If he didn't admit it, other disciples who didn’t know the truth would inevitably think that his words was not followed by his action, even if he was just a disciple of Gui, and then the name of Wei Gaoyuan would become a classic joke among disciples. He knew it, in crowds, an interesting rumor had power to swallow a hundred of boring truth.

     

    On the other hand, if Wei Gaoyuan really dared to challenge one of the top ten disciples of Xin, it would be more delicious for Ji Huzhe. He knew their strength, even Dong Feiye and Liu Xingfei, for instance, who were both selected by the trial, could only hover between fifth and tenth in the evaluation of each year.

     

    He didn’t know the real Wei Gaoyuan at all, though.

     

    What if Wei Gaoyuan decided to challenge some Cyan-Feather disciple of Xin, say, Dong Feiye? And what if he won then? Wouldn’t the Cyan-Feather just became Wei Gaoyuan’s ideal ladder to the higher?

     

    If that happened, the entire outer section would focus more on the fact that the Dark-Feather’s disciple of Gui defeated the Cyan-Feather’s disciple of Xin. Who would care about or verify the true strength of Wei Gaoyuan?

     

    And that was why Elder Xu was so furious while considering such a potential worst result, even though quite slim. Frankly, if Elder Xu had to choose one disciple of the Dark-Feather to lose, he’d rather chose WEI Gaoyuan, instead of Dong Feiye, one of Xin.

     

    Of course, Ji Huzhe knew Elder Xu’s temper: if he confessed, he might have a chance to be punished much more lightly than he would be if he denied it.

     

    Hence, having made up his mind after a short moment, Ji Huzhe lowered his head and said, “I did it… Master, I’ve realized how short sighted and stupid I am. So I beg for your punishment!”

     

    "You jerk!" Elder Xu slapped heavily on the wooden tea table next to him, leaving a sunken hand print on it.

     

    The four disciples shuddered in their hearts and lowered their heads at the same time, afraid to look at their master.

     

    Elder Xu was silent for a moment before gritted his teeth and said to Ji Huzhe, "Go lock yourself in the back mountain! Face the wall! I will break your leg if you appear in front of me in one year!"

     

    (Face the wall: if a disciple violated a rule of the sect, the leader or the master will punish him by a way of reflecting their mistake alone in a locked place, such as a cave or a cliff.)

     

    "Obey! I appreciate your mercy punishment!"Ji Huzhe bowed hurriedly, feeling easy.

     

    He’d worried most about being expelled straightly from the Cyan-Feather, fortunately, just the face-wall punishment for one year. He could accept any punishment as long as he would still be one of the Cyan-Feather.

     

    "Go!" Elder Xu waved Ji Huzhe away, who glanced at the sunken hand print into the surface of the tea table before leaving — never did any tea spill out of the small tea cup.

     

    WEI Gaoyuan took a furtive glance at it too, extremely envious in his heart, wondering if he could reach his master’s stage some day—that precise controlling his power in and out, at his will, at any time, at any situation— then where couldn’t he go within the whole country of Daxuan? On that day, even the high-level as the lord of Mengzhou City would treat himself with kindness...

     

    While he was dreaming himself, Elder Xu looked at him seriously, asking,"Gaoyuan, this year-end evaluation… are you sure you can win in the challenge, I mean, to the disciple of Ren?"

     

    WEI Gaoyuan's eyes flashed with perseverance. He replied, "Master! I will make every effort to win it, and also to win the No.1 of Gui."

     

    If he had given such a positive answer before, Elder Xu would certainly spur him on to his victory, but now he could only response with silence.

     

    He’d just met Elder Wu of the Dark-Feather half an hour ago. During chatting, Elder Wu didn’t reveal anything about Wei Gaoyuan's current stage, but the confidence in his words seemed to have determined that the No.1 of Gui this year must belong to the Dark-Feather. It just gave him a very bad feeling.

     

    Since WEI Gaoyuan entered his Peak, Elder Xu personally went to the inner section to get an elixir for washing the kid’s meridian-collateral system, what was more, he’d used his own Internal Qi of the Nature to run and break through all the 14 meridians of the kid, making them all unobstructed; plus various rare herbs to consolidate his foundation, so that the kid could, merely in a few months, step up to the bottom of the eighth-level at such a high speed, .

     

    In addition to improving his stage, almost every day, the disciples of Ren of the Cyan-Feather took turns to be WEI Gaoyuan’s combating partners, accordingly, over the past few months, the kid’s combating techniques had improved much faster than his peers. Elder Wu believed the kid currently could try to fight against any ordinary top of the eighth-level.  

     

    However, couldn’t such a kid on the rocket compete with Wei Gaoyuan, the boy with the fake spiritual root?

     

    Elder Xu got butterflies in his stomach, and he thought he’d better make some extra plan to cope with the possible worst end.

     

    ...

     

    It was another morning with light snow, the ground of the outer section wearing a shining white coat.

     

    The peaks in the distance were also covered with white flower of snow, and the hot evaluation of the year end was still going on.

     

    After several competitions, eighteen disciples of Gui finally got the tickets for advance, then six others stood out from the losers in the following additional competitions and obtained the qualification for advance as well; totally 24 disciples were permitted to go home for Spring Festival after the end of the evaluation.

     

    After the 24 got clear, the top ten and top three, and the final one at the peak obviously became the next focus, and WEI Gaoyuan of the Cyan-Feather, for sure, was the focus of the focus.

     

    Towards the other Wei Gaoyuan, there were three kinds of voices in the outer section.

     

    Some admired his courage. For many years, no disciple of Gui had dared to challenge top ten of Xin. Even if the boy lost in the end, he should earn public respect.

     

    Although “newborn calves were not afraid of tigers,” some thought the boy must be a mad newborn calf. As a genius martial artist, WEI Gaoyuan of the Cyan-Feather just decided to challenge the Ren grade; did the mad calf regard himself as one with the inferior spiritual root?

     

    Of course, there were also a few people who hold a neutral and objective view. They suspected that Wei Gaoyuan might have got some potential magic means or concealed talents. After all, someone had found out that this boy had performed two missions since he entered the Dark-Feather, and he’d even completed them both and gained dozens of contribution points. In addition, it was the truth that he’d once got a conflict with Ji Huzhe, one of Xin grade, and was on the top of that conflict.

     

    Among those who were optimistic about Wei Gaoyuan, apart from some of the Dark-Feather, there were only a few who knew more truth and details, such as Liu Xingfei.

     

    For the 24 who would compete for the top ten, the first thing was still grouping. four in one group this time, in which the first two would advance.

     

    Fortunately, Hu Xiaoshu didn’t meet Wei Gaoyuan again; he met another brother of the East Mountain Sword Clan,Li Xiaochun.

     

    He had to admit that he possessed the unique potential of struggling with his brothers.

     

    In the group of Wei Gaoyuan, there were two at the middle of Transforming Force, one at the top of it. Confronted with the two Transforming Force, he only let out one simple pattern to send them off the platform.

     

    And that top of Transforming Force, who came from the Blue-Feather, was also the formal selected disciple through the trial as the former two, yet much stronger than them.

     

    Certainly, Wei Gaoyuan could also win him in one pattern, but he chose to hide most of his strength when in the competition, and won after more than ten patterns.

     

    And WEI Gaoyuan had seen the last competition of Wei Gaoyuan. He couldn’t help sneering in his heart: to defeat a top of Transforming Force in more than ten patterns, such a potential competitor just dared to claim a challenge to the top ten of Xin? He concealed his true power or…

     

    Master Xu might worry too much. The boy on the platform was nothing but a potential competitor, the sort of the slightest potential.

  • Chapter 56 One of the Fifty Avenues

    Two days passed in a flash. The results of top ten Gui disciples was in. Just as public expectation, they were almost disciples selected by the formal trial; only Hu Xiaoshu and Lin were eliminated from the next round. Especially Lin, who even fail to win at the first round of the top-ten, made the Elder of the Scarlet-Feather very angry.

     

    In fact, the strength of the two were indeed at the bottom of the 12 seed players, and they would have no chance to enter the outer section if without the pine crystal from Wei Gaoyuan.

     

    The following top-five competitions soon began after a draw. This round, Wei Gaoyuan's opponent was a girl, named Huang Yingyan.

     

    On the competition platform, Wei Gaoyuan did not know her stage in advance, but after a few patterns, he’d roughly perceived her strength of Qi, furthermore, her style and pace of breathing was not curious, which he must have experienced somewhere. So, if not underestimated, she just broke though into the bottom of ninth-level, not long ago.

     

    The patterns of Huang Yingyan was a set of swordsmanship, smart and swift. Once the competition began, she took the lead and shot her light sword continuously.

     

    After evading her three patterns, Wei Gaoyuan suddenly blocked her next move and meanwhile let out a pattern of “take the blade with an empty hand.” In a flash, Huang Yingyan's sword had been in Wei Gaoyuan’s hand. From the beginning to the end of the competition, Wei Gaoyuan did not draw out his sword.

     

    “Sister Huang, I’d learnt a lot from you!” Wei Gaoyuan gave back her sword after a cupped-fist greeting.

     

    "Nice!!" the audience were shocked by Wei Gaoyuan's last pattern.

     

    On the other platform, WEI Gaoyuan of the Cyan-Feather ended it with only one pattern before he was just looking over and saw Wei Gaoyuan’s grabbing Huang Yingyan's sword. He was not as shocked as others else, but showed a slight chuckle, whispering to himself, "This pattern is not bad… Just try hard to meet me in the final."

     

    Then he turned his head and stopped looking at Wei Gaoyuan, not noticing Wei Gaoyuan’s following gaze over his platform and the corner of Wei Gaoyuan’s lips raising slightly, as if smiling.

     

    Compared to the Scarlet-Feather, the Dark-Feather had a rich harvest this year. In addition to Wei Gaoyuan's unimpeded promotion, another disciple, Zhu Qinglong, also won. He competed against a disciple of the White-Feather, who’d just broke through into the bottom of the ninth-level.

     

    Zhu Qinglong was still at the top of the Interior Force,without any level-up since he entered the outer section. Yet he did have a quite tough foundation of Martial Arts. Besides, his personal cultivation methods of Internal Qi seemed quite extraordinary. That made his opponent even failed to win him in a short time, and unexpectedly, this cunning fat just seized a slim fault of his opponent and suddenly release a powerful explosive Internal Qi, blowing up his opponent off the platform — a classic “skip-level kill!”

     

    The brother of the East Mountain Sword Club, Li Xiaochun, had steadily stepped into the bottom of the ninth-level after more than half a year's training, not far from the top of it. However, his opponent, a bottom of the ninth-level as well, was not a weak guy. After a fight of more than 200 patterns between the two, Li Xiaochun just win narrowly.

     

    Right after the win, he immediately came to Wei Gaoyuan, Hu Xiaoshu and Lin, first expressing admiration for Wei Gaoyuan's performance, then encouraging Hu Xiaoshu and Lin to keep harder training. Afterwards, the group of the East Mountain Sword Club turned their eyes on the last competition that was still on the show.

     

    The only battle that didn’t end was between the Blue-Feather and White-Feather, both the bottom of the ninth-level, almost the same stage. More than 400 patterns between them passing, it still got no sign of stopping.

     

    In the end, the two fought in more than four hundred patterns, and the disciples of the White-Feather, Zhenhai, relied on his longer-term and larger amount of Internal Qi to win, precisely,  exhausting his opponent to quit.

     

    After that, the top five were fixed, and there was still one remaining ticket for those defeated four.

     

    The reason why the defeated could still have the opportunity to advance was a belief among cultivators since ancient times that “Tao generates 50 avenues, 49 of them are revealed, 1 of them is concealed.” An opportunity left to a potential or an uncertainty perfected the imperfect. Thus, the loser should be offered the chance to avoid missing some talent, for instance, if a talent met another talent by the draw, “one of the two tigers will be wounded when they fought.”

     

    After a noon break, in the afternoon's loser-promotion competition, Zhong Yifan, a former regrettable defeated disciple of the Blue-Feather, made a comeback and grabbed the last ticket, with a beautiful “double-kill” in two competitions.

     

    The Dark-Feather, surprisingly, was the biggest winner in the top-six of Gui. Elder Wu, undoubtedly, had almost become the “target” of the Elders of other Peaks, including Elder Yang on the behalf of the Scarlet-Feather, who just congratulated Elder Wu with a black face and left immediately.

     

    Towards Wei Gaoyuan's advance, Elder Wu felt no surprise, but Zhu Qinglong was really a present beyond his expectation.

     

    As early as when he saw Zhu Qinglong at Palace of Dark-Feather, he’d perceived that the Internal Qi within the kid’s body seemed to be evolved from a cultivation methods of some orthodox Taoism sect; what the kid needed, he thought, might be slowing down rather than speeding up. To slowly lay a solid foundation was most likely to make his cultivation process after the stage of the Mystery smoother, smoother and faster might it be to even enter the stage of the Nature.

     

    Because of that, Elder Wu did not rush to improve Zhu Qinglong's stage, but helped him to lay the foundation of Martial Arts step by step. He’d expected that the kid would have shone in the evaluation next year, and the kid just did it this year.

     

    The countless carefree snow still dancing between the sky and ground, the disciple on duty was whistling happily while sweeping the snow, even if no one could distinguish it from the wind blowing around. In the distance, there had been a larger snow-white landscape.

     

    The top-three would begin the next day, still the same rule, the single competition fixing the winner, and the draw determining who was your next “destiny-man.”

     

    In the past evaluations, the liveliest scenes usually appeared on the platforms of high-grade disciples, like the Bing, the Ding. Few of disciples of the Jia and the Yi participated in this sort of year-end evaluation, even the Bing were rarely seen. Only in their final year end, disciples of the Jia would gather in the outer section for a final big show.

     

    This year appeared different, because of the interesting news of WEI Gaoyuan and Wei Gaoyuan. Many disciples went to the area of ​​the Gui, to watch the two boys’ competitions, a few of them occasionally making some comments of their performance.

     

    In addition to two Gaoyuans, Zhu Qinglong had also received a lot of attention, as the sole man of the top-six, who was below the stage of the Mystery. Unfortunately, the road of this dark horse would come to the end.

     

    He met WEI Gaoyuan, the No. 1 hit.

     

    Due to something among WEI Gaoyuan and Wei Gaoyuan, the disciple of the Cyan- and the Dark-Feather seemed to show quite plenty of “kindness” to each other. WEI Gaoyuan was not the exception for sure.

     

    Standing on the platform, he stretched out one index finger, saying to Zhu Qinglong, coldly and briefly, "One pattern, send you back."

     

    Certainly, Zhu Qinglong was not scared by the provoking words, even though he clearly understood the gap between their strength. Provoking me? You kid hadn’t been born when I was playing such a little trick! He thought, and shot his first stroke of sword, seemingly quite powerful!

     

    Seeing Zhu Qinglong showed the initiative, WEI Gaoyuan sneered. There just came a sword of the Undistinguishment!

     

    He intended to defeat this fatty dragon directly, to tell the Dark-Feather what the difference between the Cyan and the Dark. So, he just poured out 80% of Internal Qi and gave out a palm-strike over the blade.

    (Fatty dragon: WEI Gaoyuan calls it because “Long,” in Zhu Qinglong’s name, means “dragon,” “龙” in Chinese.)

     

    After all, the fatty dragon was not his enemy but the brother in the same outer section, 80%, surely enough to slap his fat face.

     

    It was true, against Zhu Qinglong, 80% Internal Qi would be quite enough to blow him and his sword up—if the palm-strike could hit.

     

    Under everyone's attention, Zhu Qinglong’s sword-strike suddenly came to a halt halfway. This fat jumped like a fatty rabbit, flying over WEI Gaoyuan’s head!

     

    A feigned attack!

     

     

    WEI Gaoyuan was kind of surprised after his palm-strike missed. He planned to use aggressive words to irritate Zhu Qinglong, the fatty must launch a desperate attack with all his strength, then he could defeat him with a more overwhelming strength.

    Yet, this fatty fox just didn’t follow his script to play.

     

    Wei Gaoyuan was annoyed slightly, and was about to shoot his next pattern.  

     

    "One pattern, over!" Zhu Qinglong stretched out his index finger, with a silly smile.

  • Chapter 57 The Fourth Flashed

    WEI Gaoyuan’s face turned red.

     

    Zhu Qinglong knew from the beginning that he would be totally outmatched, he just wanted to add condiment to WEI Gaoyuan’s dish.

     

    As a disciple of the Dark-Feather, he certainly knew who was the  man with the fake spiritual root. In the genius name of junior brother Wei, WEI Gaoyuan enjoyed the treatment that Wei Gaoyuan should have received, even with that mean, vain, ugly face.

     

    Unlike Hu Xiaoshu, he wouldn’t speak it out or jumped out directly to cry for Wei Gaoyuan — somethings might be more serious than he an ordinary disciple could imagine, or somethings that he should never touch.

     

    Yet, he could try to touch WEI Gaoyuan’s face, by his way, that feigned attack, for example. It was yourself who said I would be sent off the platform in one pattern~ You put your face on my hand, and I slapped it, gently.  

     

    After a short embarrassment, WEI Gaoyuan quickly realized that he was trapped in the fatty’s script, and without any hesitation, he launched his second attack. Zhu Qinglong, however, who did not fight back or resist, ran away, like a fat dog~

     

    His plump body didn’t make his movement slow or awkward, instead, he seemed to run fairly fast and flexible. Even four patterns WEI Gaoyuan’d made in a row forced him to get off the platform.

     

    After that, the face of the winner, WEI Gaoyuan, was as black as the rock of the Dark-Feather; Zhu Qinglong looked like a winner, his head up high. People who just arrived would be confused about who was the virtual winner.

     

    Back at the camp the Dark-Feather, Zhu Qinglong cast a look of asking credit at Wei Gaoyuan, and said, "Junior brother Wei, leave that guy to you. You must beat his ass, kick his head till he calls you daddy~"

     

    Wei Gaoyuan was amused and laughed, "Brother Zhu, you wanna a son, that kind?"

     

    A number of disciples of other Peaks were discussing about it, and a few brothers said with a smile, "That fat, a real creepy gross…But I just love it. Haha ​..."

     

    Although WEI Gaoyuan did lose his face, slightly, he was the first to get into the top-three.

     

    The following second competition began soon: Li Xiaochun VS Zhong Yifan, it would be a predictable tug-of-war, right-left, left-right, since the two were estimated to be almost the equal strength, not easy for either to take his opponent’s advantage.

     

    After more than 300 patterns, as expected, the two just fell off the platform at the same time, who’d both run too much of their Internal Qi and were unable to continue competing.

     

    As a consequence, this competition was suspended.

     

    The third: Wei Gaoyuan VS He Zhenhai. When the two stood and faced each other, He Zhenhai drew out his weapon, a long sword. He stared at Wei Gaoyuan and asked, "Where is your weapon?"

     

    "Forget to bring," Wei Gaoyuan spread his hands and replied,

     

    Forgot to bring the weapon in a competition? Was your head kicked by the donkey?

     

    He Zhenhai's face changed, "Junior brother Wei, here is not the playground…"

     

    Wei Gaoyuan was the youngest of the 12 freshmen, so all of other 11 were his brothers. He said, "Frankly, I wanna have a try, to borrow your sword."

     

    He Zhenhai's face became even more black. Wei Gaoyuan's meaning was obvious— he wanted to take He Zhenhai's sword in the competition.

     

    He Zhenhai snorted coldly, threw his sword out of the platform, and raised his head, "A fair competition, you forget your sword, I drop mine."

     

    "Brother He truly deserves the virtue of Xia.  Alright! Please give your fist pattern!" It was better, Wei Gaoyuan thought, anyway, the result wouldn’t change, a fair competition could be helpful for brother He to lose less face.

     

    He Zhenhai was not weak. His Internal Qi felt abundant and thick, which indicated that he might have got a tough foundation of Martial Arts before he entered the outer section. That would enable him to exhaust his opponent if encountered a equal-strength battle.

     

    However, Wei Gaoyuan was two stages higher than him, a too big gap to skip. And He Zhenhai just felt it not long after they began fighting— He’d planned to make his strong Internal Qi burst out at one point to blow up Wei Gaoyuan off the platform; Wei Gaoyuan, in response, used “one stream leads three seas” of Tai Chi patterns to lead his Internal Qi to another direction and made his attacks in vain. Hence in a few rounds, He Zhenhai stopped, and admitted he’d been lost because few Internal Qi could sustain his next move.

     

    Leaving the platform, He Zhenhai shook his head, not too frustrated, though. After all, the opponent was significantly stronger than himself. In a sense, he became more interested in the following competition, between genius WEI Gaoyuan and this boy.

     

    ...

     

    Days in winter were usually short. At the end of dinner, the moon began rising quietly.

     

    It was another full moon, impressively bright.

     

    At the back of the Dark-Feather, Wei Gaoyuan was practicing the swordsmanship in CHASING WIND SWORD in the bamboo forest, with a common long sword he’d spent two silver coins buying in the Exchange House.

     

    After refined in his dreams, Chasing Wind Sword” was slightly different from the original version, but it was more powerful and efficient, he could feel it.

     

    “Chasing Wind Sword” and “Eight Clouds in Dream” appeared to be two totally different types of swordsmanship: the former, like his name, was fast, accurate and destructive, easy to use, more like a pure tool for killing or combating; “Eight Clouds in Dream,”  on the contrary, was too deep and profound, like a fantastic flower in a mysterious dream, easy to feel, difficult to grasp. Therefore, he’d been still unable to fully comprehend the first of the eight patterns so far. In contrast, he’d begun practicing the third pattern of“Chasing Wind Sword” now.

     

    “Chasing Wind Sword” was just the fundamental swordsmanship in CHASING WIND SWORD. Its first pattern was simple, as if anyone could learn it; but the second turned out to be almost twice as difficult as the first, and the third was nearly twice as difficult as the second.

     

    As for the fourth, he hadn’t begun yet, knowing not much about it.

     

    Moreover, there were totally twelve patterns in “Chasing Wind Sword.” According to the first three, he estimated that the twelfth should not be inferior to the eighth of “Eight Clouds in Dream.”

     

    "A great stroke of sword!"as he immersed himself in practicing the third pattern, a sudden voice behind him came.

     

    Wei Gaoyuan didn’t stop until he leaned his strength to complete the last action of the third pattern. He then slid his sword into the scabbard and turned around, seeing Chu Yuntian standing not far away, with a little surprise in his eyes.

     

    "Good evening, brother Chu," Wei Gaoyuan saluted, and smiled, "Congratulations to Brother Chu, entering the top-three in the evaluation, and the No.1 was awaiting you tomorrow."

     

    "Thanks, I also hope to get the first this year," Chu Yuntian turned serious. "Last year, I lost to Xie Liancheng of the White-Feather, lost to his last stroke of sword…So, druing the past year, I kept thinking about every details of that stroke, but I’d still found no way to crack it, I am afraid…tomorrow, to meet him again, I could do nothing but give my best pattern, just to try my luck… "

     

    " Are you sure to crack it by that, your best pattern?" Wei Gaoyuan asked.

     

    "50% to win," Chu Yuntian replied calmly, "and 50% to lose again.”

     

    “But when I saw the pattern you were just doing, something just… I’m not quite sure about it, seemed clicked in my head. It might increase my chance to win, if I could learn more from you tonight~ May I ask… that pattern… whether you learn it from some scroll in the library?"

     

    Wei Gaoyuan shook his head and said, "No, I create it."

     

    Everything about Lie Qianshan and his gifts was an absolute secret. And “Chasing Wind Sword” did get modified by his dream space, counted as 20% or 30% self-creation for that reason. So, he gave the shameless answer without any hesitation. Any hesitation might arouse his suspicion—Chu Yuntian was not a stupid.

     

    His reply astonished Chu Yuntian, though. To create a new pattern of swordsmanship?! How deep was this junior brother’s understanding towards swordsmanship? Or how talented could he be in it? And that mystic pattern he created, it even made himself learn something he’d never figured out...  

     

    Having seen the expression of Chu Yuntian, Wei Gaoyuan realized that he boasted too much…If he knew exactly how talented an expert of swordsmanship must be to create a new pattern, especially that sort of magic pattern, he mustn’t have been that shameless...  

     

    Chu Yuntian’s interest seemed to be suddenly aroused, and asked for a swordsmanship competition right now, simply in swordsmanship, without applying Internal Qi. He didn’t want to take his junior brother’s advantage, who’d just been in the Dark-Feather less than one year.

     

    A competition without using Internal Qi? That was what I want! Wei Gaoyuan got relieved.

     

    In addition to a set of basic enlightenment swordsmanship, Wei Gaoyuan had merely learnt four patterns, the first pattern of “Eight Clouds in Dream” and the first three of “Chasing Wind Sword”.

     

    At the beginning, he just used the enlightenment and was soon overpowered by Chu Yuntian. So, he had to let out the first of “Chasing Wind Sword”, and struggled to balance the bad situation by using it three times in a row.

     

    Then Chu Yuntian changed and strengthened his pattern, forcing Wei Gaoyuan to give the second.

     

    And when the third came out, Chu Yuntian’s pattern fell into a disorder for the first time, which made Chu Yuntian startled somewhat.

     

    Before Chu Yuntian could calm himself down and steady the pace to find a chance of fighting back, the situation had changed again!

     

    Wei Gaoyuan’s pattern changed again, all of a sudden, it was the fourth!

     

    Each pattern in “Chasing Wind Sword” appeared twice powerful than the previous. So the fourth didn’t gave Chu Yuntian even a slim space and time to resist, who just saw the flower of sword in front of him blossomed in a flash, and next moment, the point of Wei Gaoyuan’s blade just touched gently on his shoulder.

     

    Until now, Chu Yuntian had never got the path of Wei Gaoyuan’s last sword-strike though he knew in his heart that junior brother Wei, since the outset, had exerted four patterns, 11 strokes of sword.  

     

    Then the two men stopped at the same time, standing quietly, lost in deep thought. They were both pondering what had happened just now.

     

     

    Except for the night wind whistling, there was only silence in the moonlight.

     

    The chilly night wind could merely wave the two men’s long hair and gowns.

     

    After a long while, Chu Yuntian laughed suddenly and said in a loud voice, "I see it! I see it!! Thank you! Brother Wei! I’ve gotta go! I’ve gotta go right now! I’ll visit you someday… to reward you for the instruction tonight!"

     

    Wei Gaoyuan returned from meditation, gazing unseeingly at the back of Chu Yuntian quickly disappearing into the darkness…

     

    "You figured it out…but I don’t! Who can tell me how I gave that fourth pattern!”


  • Chapter 58 A Cry of a Crane

    The next day, after a night of rest, the disciples of Gui were only left with the top-four.

     

    There were hundreds of disciples in the outer section, at competitions of year-end evaluation, there were often draws. Elders usually discussed for the arrangement of disciples in draws, to fight again, or to both advance; sometimes they arranged one or even two outsiders to join and have a melee, and it was said that there had also been a few cases that a lucky draw directly determined who would advance.

     

    After a group discussion, Li Xiaochun and Zhong Yifan were arranged to have a competition against WEI Gaoyuan and Wei Gaoyuan, that meant, let the two Gaoyuans decide who would be promoted.

     

    By drawing, Li Xiaochun VS WEI Gaoyuan, Zhong Yifan VS Wei Gaoyuan.

     

    Liu Xingfei had finished the evaluation yesterday and finally won the fifth in Xin grade. It was not bad but he was not very satisfied because it was the same as the previous year, no improvement.

     

    Rather than to watch the competitions among the top-three of Xin, he came to the area of Gui to watch his junior brother Wei and Zhong.

     

    As a disciple of the Blue-Feather, Liu Xingfei naturally wished that Zhong Yifan would go further in the evaluation this year, but he knew Wei Gaoyuan much more than anyone else. Junior brother Zhong had no chance to win at all. So, he came for asking Wei Gaoyuan whether he could let junior brother Zhong win.

     

    "Brother Liu!" Wei Gaoyuan greeted as soon as he saw Liu Xingfei, and then laughed, "I heard from brother Chu yesterday, you’d got the fifth of Xin!"

     

    "Well,” Liu Xingfei sighed, twisting his mouth, then show four of his fingers, "I’ve been ranked fifth for four consecutive years. It’s really not easy to get a place in top-three."

     

    The corner of Wei Gaoyuan’s mouth rising, he wanted to laugh but held it back.

     

    Liu Xingfei had been in the outer section for four years, and participated in four year-end evaluations, and ranked the fifth for four times. Could any disciple of Xin perform more steadily than brother Liu?

     

    Speaking of today’s competition against Zhong Yifan, Wei Gaoyuan had to tell Liu Xingfei that Li Xiaochun, who would appear in the first against WEI Gaoyuan, was his brother in the East Mountain Sword Club. Thus, it was not that proper to present Zhong Yifan with an easy ticket in and send his brother Li out.

     

    Wei Gaoyuan came up with an idea: according to the results of the fight between Li Xiaochun and WEI Gaoyuan, he would perform to let Zhong Yifan lose in the same amount of patterns as Li Xiaochun could resist WEI Gaoyuan, and next, just pushed the headache back to the Elders~

     

    Sound not bad~ Liu Xingfei was very satisfied. After expressing his appreciation, they talked about if they could find a few more missions next year to earn some contribution points.

     

    The stage gap between Li Xiaochun and WEI Gaoyuan should have made the competition finished soon, in not more than three patterns of WEI Gaoyuan. But WEI Gaoyuan didn’t use his weapon, unlike him, Li Xiaochu chose to use his sword from the beginning to the end and concentrated much more on the defensive than on the proactive. So, it finally took WEI Gaoyuan as many as seven patterns to drive Li Xiaochun off the platform.

     

    As a consequence, WEI Gao yuan was the first to be one of the top-two of Gui, as everyone expected.

     

    When Wei Gaoyuan stepped on the platform, he drew out his sword first, that ordinary one worth two silver coins, showing his respect to the competition as well as the Blue-Feather.

     

    In fact, in the first six patterns, he hardly used the sword to attack; even if he gave, it was some of the simplest swordsmanship he’d learnt.

     

    Upon his seventh pattern, Wei Gaoyuan’s figure suddenly vanished out of Zhong Yifan’s sight!

     

    It was time to say good bye! Zhong Yifan got an astonishment in his heart, and until Wei Gaoyuan’s figure appeared again in front of him next second, the body of his sword had been on the shoulder of Zhong Yifan.

     

    So far, some brothers and sisters, who came as audience in curiosity or for amusement, had realized that the boy they were watching had been the second to reach the final, not bad, but it still seemed not powerful enough to challenge the disciple of Xin…

     

    Anyway, just sit and wait for the final result, if the boy couldn’t win WEI Gaoyuan, how many rounds he would keep himself standing on the platform while confronting the top of Xin?

     

    ...

     

    Another morning came, with the snowing gone. It was much colder, though.

     

    The cotton-padded jacket distributed by the section made Wei Gaoyuan looked a little bit fat.

     

    Actually, he didn’t need to put on it as a martial artist was able to run his Internal Qi to resist cold more or less. For those who had reached the Mystery, as usual, a thin gown with an underwear was enough in the winter around zero degrees centigrade.

     

    Wei Gaoyuan had a childhood worse than the poor. Once winter came, he could only put on such a luxury cotton-padded jacket in his dream; once he got some warm clothes, he gave it to his sick sister; once winter left, it always left full of frostbite on his hands and feet.

     

    Now, he was just wearing a cotton-padded jacket, and would stand on the final stage. A sweet present always preferred to come with a few sour memories.

     

    Compared to Wei Gaoyuan, WEI Gaoyuan looked more like a young handsome swordsman. He was wearing a gown as white as snow, waving with his tidy black hair in the morning wind; tied behind his back was the three feet long sword in the silver sheath.   

     

    WEI Gaoyuan jumped over, landed stable on the platform, and slid his sword out of the sheath. Likewise, his body was a sword out of the sheath, ready to shoot anytime.

     

    Wei Gaoyuan walked peacefully onto the platform, step by step.

     

    The wind on the platform felt colder. He said in his heart.

     

    Sister, where were you now? How were you now? Had you learnt how to fly into the sky on your sword from some Taoism Follower master?

     

    While he was thinking, his opponent WEI Gaoyuan raised his head, “I didn't want to use my sword, but this is the final; if I don't use, it would not be polite to you, and… I won’t keep my strength. Take care of yourself, junior brother.”

     

    Wei Gaoyuan raised his head, seeing the eyes of WEI Gaoyuan, which appeared not so firm as before.

     

    Indeed, WEI Gaoyuan was kind of hesitant about the final. Originally, he regarded himself as a red-crowned crane standing among a bunch of doltish chickens. Except for Li Xiaochun, no disciple of Gui had cost him more than five patterns. But yesterday, he found that Zhong Yifan, who seemed almost equivalent to Li Xiaochun in the stage and strength, only took seven patterns by Wei Gaoyuan. Although Wei Gaoyuan used his sword, he did not do his best for sure. Thus, should he reconsider Wei Gaoyuan’s data? This opponent appeared as simple as his cotton-padded jacket, but…

     

    (Red-crowned crane: recognized as a first-class cultural bird since ancient China. It represents loyalty, integrity, and noble character.)

     

    Wei Gaoyuan gave a smile, whose eyes seemed blank suddenly. He just felt somehow this final was not so meaningful as he’d thought before — what if he won the final to stand on the summit of Gui?

     

    The dragon might be staring above the clouds at the red-crowned crane who was overlooking the chickens on the ground.  

     

    In a flash, his eyes turned meaningful and soulful, which gave Elder Xu on the judge seat a very bad feeling!

     

    “Go!” with an order of the referee, WEI Gaoyuan’s sword shot first. An all-Internal-Qi sword-strike! He just wanted to end the game in one pattern!

     

    Elder Xu’s eyes were fixed on the point of WEI Gaoyuan’s blade. He could accept WEI Gaoyuan lose in the final, but he could never accept WEI Gaoyuan lose in one pattern!

     

    WEI Gaoyuan’s sword turned into a flash of lightning — a visible flash of Sword Qi, so fast that even some of Xin disciples were astonished!

     

    In the distance, a drop of bright dew was gliding on a leaf and falling off the big tree…

     

    The Sword-Qi had almost reached the chest of Wei Gaoyuan. Wei Gaoyuan’s figure abruptly blurred in front of WEI Gaoyuan.

     

    Right after that, Wei Gaoyuan's blurred figure moved and passed by WEI Gaoyuan; in WEI Gaoyuan’s eyes, it was just a common and quick passing…

     

    A crisp short sound came, like a cry of crane. Then, there only left silence.

     

    Standing behind WEI Gaoyuan, Wei Gaoyuan was sliding his sword back into the scabbard.

     

    Elder Xu’s face was pale.

     

    In the distance, the drop of dew had just fallen on the ground, smashed.

     

    WEI Gaoyuan fell onto the ground, without any voice. 


    the Red-crowned crane

  • Chapter 59 A Dark-Feather-Year!

    "What ... what happened?" most of disciples from the Cyan-Feather widened their eyes, and could hardly believe their eyes.

     

    Just a passing by? Then WEI Gaoyuan was knocked down? That was it? What did that Wei Gaoyuan do? Even the disciples of Xin did not see clearly what had happened at that instant.

     

    "How is it possible?" Elder Xu muttered, shaking his head constantly.

     

    As a martial artist of the Nature, each movement, every detail, of Wei Gaoyuan to knock down his disciple was captured in his eyes: Wei Gaoyuan sped up and lunged; flicked WEI Gaoyuan's wrist with his finger while passing by, ceasing the shooting Sword-Qi; as he came behind WEI Gaoyuan, he just drew out of his sword, with a clear sound of the blade sliding through the scabbard; somehow, he didn’t use the sword, but gave WEI Gaoyuan’s back neck a simple “Knifehand”; as everyone could saw it at last, Wei Gaoyuan’s sword was sliding back into the scabbard.

     

    Five movements completed in one pattern.

     

    (Knifehand: one of the common unarmed tricks, take the hand as a knife to strike. It’s usually acted in two patterns: “Handtip-kinife”— use the finger-tip to pierce the opponent, and “Handside-kinife”— use the side of a hand as the blade of a knife to hack at the opponent.)  

     

    “Wei Gaoyuan of the Dark-Feather, win!” the referee first reacted and announced loudly.

     

    There should have been an eruption of thundering cheer, but this time only silence; even some whispering of discussion came to an abrupt end.

     

    Wei Gaoyuan greeted the referee with a bow as a junior, then stepped down the platform, as calmly as he stepped up.

     

    When the shouts for Wei Gaoyuan burst around the platform, he had returned to the camp of the Dark-Feather. Elder Wu was not in. He might go to watch the competitions of brothers and sisters. Wei Gaoyuan saw Zhu Qinglong first, who looked at him with a silly smile and then said in an impassioned and dramatic tone, "You buddy really got it!! You really deserve the genius...the genius’ daddy!" He swallowed “the genius fake spiritual root.”

     

    Wei Gaoyuan greeted with a smile and a few of helpless head-shakings.

     

    Moments later, Liu Xingfei came in, staring at Wei Gaoyuan for a while and giving his chest a punch, "You must get a secret level-up! I could barely catch your pattern clearly!" He added, “Don’t pick up me if you challenge the top ten of Xin!” He said it in a smile, glancing at the camp of the Cyan-Feather not far away: Dong Feiye had also been in the top ten of Xin, so what was junior brother Wei’s next move?

     

    As a matter of fact, never had Wei Gaoyuan felt like challenging anyone next. He subconsciously followed the eyes of Liu Xingfei to look at the camp of the Cyan-Feather, having cursed the guy in his heart thousands of times who made and spread the rumor…

     

    Elder Xu was squinting at Wei Gaoyuan right now, who was being treated by the healing team. His fingers were rubbed slowly, intentionally or not, seeming like sitting on the pins and needles.

     

    Fortunately, WEI Gaoyuan was just faint, not injured at all. Wei Gaoyuan’s last hit should not be heavy. After being rescued, he appeared at a loss for seconds, and soon turned into frustration, annoyance and unwillingness.

     

    The Cyan-Feather’s long term efforts on himself was rewarded with a No.2, and he was defeated by just one pattern. Now, everything seemed to get the answer in his mind. Why did that Scarlet-Feather disciple come to argue and make trouble months ago? Why did there exist such a big gap between himself and Wei Gaoyuan? Who was the disciple his master wanted to take in actually at the new disciple selection?...

     

    After returned, how should he respond to his master, to his brothers and sisters?

     

    WEI Gaoyuan’s mind was rushing incoherently here and there…

     

    ...

     

    Crowded around a group of brothers and sisters, Wei Gaoyuan returned to the Dark-Feather Peak. He still looked peaceful, far more peaceful than the warm brothers and sisters in the Dark-Feather, who truely let him feel warm in heart.

     

    Zhu Qinglong finally got the sixth of Gui. He seemed quite happy and satisfied with his achievement now as he had been grinning since came back, as if he’d got the No.1.

     

    The calmness of Wei Gaoyuan confused him. He said, "Come on~ Even Standing at the peak of Gui can not make you a little excited?"

     

    "Look at me, I’m so glad," Wei Gaoyuan immediately replied with a smile, a perfunctory smile.

     

    Zhu Qinglong shook his head, turning down the corners of his mouth, "Okay~ Okay~ Even the opportunity to visit the inner section can not make you a little exited?”

     

    The awards for the No. 1 disciple of Gui at the year-end evaluation included a sword, a scroll of swordsmanship, a Vitality Elixir, a Meridian-Collateral Washing Elixir, one hundred silver coins and the opportunity to enter the inner section for three days.

     

    Any disciple of Gui would not deny that it was a huge bonus: the sword couldn’t be low in level; the Vitality Elixir was good in healing, namely a chance to save a live in emergency; the Meridian-Collateral Washing, as its name showed, had the power to draw out impurities accumulated in the meridian-collateral system of body, which was undoubtedly beneficial to a Martial Artist.

     

    However, all of these would be a small beer if compared to the permission of entering the inner section for three days. Normally, inner sections were not the places a mortal could get access to. It was the realms of those powerful who could fly above the clouds and dive under the earth; it was the place that transformed a caterpillar into a butterfly, even if it was merely three days— Zhu Qinglong thought so at least…

     

    After a while, another group of noisy disciples was approaching. They were chatting about Chu Yuntian, who just won the first of Xin.

     

    Chu Yuntian might have heard Wei Gaoyuan’s news on the way back, so he greeted Wei Gaoyuan with a happy hug as soon as he entered the camp, "Congratulations! Junior brother Wei! "

     

    Wei Gaoyuan smiled, "Congratulations to our No.1 of Xin!"

     

    Chu Yuntian gave a mysterious smile, "You made the No.1 of Xin that night~ I just cracked Xie Liancheng’s pattern on the platform, even though he has improved his swordsmanship a lot too.”

     

    Xie Liancheng’s pattern had been bothering Chun Yuntian for a year since he was defeated. That night, Wei Gaoyuan’s third pattern of “Chasing Wind Sword” and a friendly competition swordsmanship gave him an valuable epiphany, two days before the final of Xin began.

     

    Also, Wei Gaoyuan gradually realized how he did the fourth pattern that night. That seemed to come after a swordsmanship instinct flashing in combating against a strong swordsman. After hundreds of tries, although he could do it again, it was not as natural and perfect as it was at that night.

     

    A few moments later, Elder Wu returned, his dark face shining with great pleasure.

     

    The outer section stipulated that the disciple who was not below the third-level of the Mystery could be free to go down the mountain. Therefore, most disciples of Jia and Yi would choose a journey outside into Jianghu to gain themselves more experience and Positive Karma, or to take a part time job in some major cities. Except for the final performance before graduation, they were seldom found in the activities of the outer section.

     

    Some of the Bing might participate in the year-end evaluation, but it was just less than a half of the whole grade. For those ranked highest in stage, especially, only one or two of them at most tended to appear while returned, which made the No.1 of the high grades lose its worth and attraction more or less.

     

    Naturally, disciples had different levels of talents, and the gap between their strength probably got enlarged gradually with time passing by. After several years’ cultivation and exploration of talents, those who had extraordinary aptitude might enter as high as the first two levels of the Mystery, a few even breaking into the Nature! So, they often showed little interest in such level of activities, even if some of them did return occasionally for some personal reasons.

     

    Apart from the highest grades, a few of the Ding were also absent from the evaluation this year, who must have entered into the first three levels of the Mystery.

     

    As a result, the remaining grades, Wu, Ji, Geng, Xin, Ren and Gui, became the focus of public attention this year.

     

    And the Dark-Feather just seized the two of the six No.1. It was a Dark-Feather-Year!


     
    The Knifehand

     

     


  • Chapter 60 Three Challengers

    Elder Xu went back to the Cyan-Feather, with a gloomy face on the way.

     

    WEI Gaoyuan's defeat was not a surprise to him, but that boy just did it in only one pattern…

     

    As a master in the Nature, he’d realized at first glance that the boy was much stronger than WEI Gaoyuan. He had nothing to complain; what upset him now most was that who would be the boy’s next target? Dong Feiye, or Qu Heyue?

     

    In the year-end evaluation, Dong Feiye got the sixth of Xin, Qu Heyue the eighth, that meant, either of them was most likely to be targeted.

     

    From the final competition of the Gui, Wei Gaoyuan’s technique of movement and speed demonstrated that he should have reached the seventh-level of the Mystery. Neither Dong Feiye nor Qu Heyue would have much confidence to win him, or, go to the Dark-Feather to talk to that old dark face... No! No! That was declaring our failure in advance!

     

    While Elder Xu suffering a headache, a lively noise came outside. Dozens of disciples were walking over here. At the center of them was one of his disciples, Lan Qishan.

     

    Seeing Elder Xu, all the disciples came forward to greet with a bow, and then reported happily, "Master, Brother Lan won the first of Geng~ He earned our Cyan-Feather great fame!"

     

    Well, the Good news visited after the bad. Elder Xu raised his head, looked at Lan Qishan, nodded and said with relief, "That’s good! The road of martial arts never ends, though. It’s just your new outset."

     

    "Follow your instruction, I’ll always strive for the Cyan-Feather!" Lan Qishan responded, respectfully.

     

    In Elder Xu’s eyes was Lan Qishan while in his heart flashed the name of Dong Feiye. He just thought if Lan Qishan were the top of the Xin grade, he would have got little concerns.

     

    Sigh! Qu Heyue…just hope that boy shouldn’t pick a girl to challenge.

     

    The atmosphere in the Dark-Feather was much more relaxed. Elder Wu had announced to all his disciples there would be a big party tonight in Dark-Feather Peak.

     

    Before the party, Elder Wu called Wei Gaoyuan into the backyard room. They needed a talk about the next move.

     

    According to the regulation of the outer section, if Wei Gaoyuan wanted to issue a challenge, it must be someone of the top ten of Xin in this year-end evaluation.

     

    Elder Wu did not see Wei Gaoyuan's final combat. Based on the descriptions of other disciples, he estimated that if Wei Gaoyuan challenged the seventh to the tenth of Xin, there was a chance of winning; and it should not be impossible to try to fight against the fourth to the sixth; as for the first three… just forget about it.

     

    In fact, Wei Gaoyuan personally didn't want to challenge anyone of Xin. If he had to, he planned to pick Dong Feiye as his opponent.

     

    After Hu Xiaoshu was beaten by WEI Gaoyuan, there accordingly generated something subtle, kind of unfriendly, between the Cyan-Feather and the Dark-Feather. He seemed to have no reason to challenge other Peaks instead of the Cyan-Feather Peak.

     

    Elder Wu considered much more than Wei Gaoyuan. In his eyes, the recent tiny conflict among disciples of the Peaks was just the kids’ game, not a big deal; furthermore, he and Elder Xu virtually had a not-bad relationship.

     

    The most important thing was that to challenge a Xin, as one of Gui, meant to challenge across two grades span. If Wei Gao Yuan was lucky to win finally, it must push the entire Peak of the Cyan-Feather swinging at the edge of the cliff for a long time in the future. Besides, it would certainly not be conducive to the following growth of the disciples of the Cyan-Feather. Especially for the defeated disciple in the challenge, it might breed an Internal Demon during his cultivation.

     

    What Elder Xu concerned seemed to had nothing to do with Wei Gaoyuan himself, but he admitted that Elder Wu's analysis was indeed reasonable. In spite of everything, he and his next opponent were all disciples cultivating in the same outer section. In some cases, trying to reduce slapping faces of others was to reduce the risk of being slapped.

     

    However, he could never accept to pretend to lose, which was really against his faith of martial arts.

     

    Eventually, Elder Wu suggested that he choose Qu Heyue, in spite of a girl, and managed to end it in a tie. What he would have done couldn’t escape Elder Xu’s eyes, and that old fox, he must know what he should do after that…

     

    Neither won, both won. My master was a master!

     

    ...

     

    The Challenge Day came the next day. All the relevant disciples had been gathered in the same field.

     

    Actually, there were only three challenges among six disciples: WEI Gaoyuan of the Cyan-Feather challenged Song Mingyu of the Scarlet-Feather; Wei Gaoyuan of the Dark-Feather picked Qu Heyue of the Cyan-Feather; Xiao Jianping of the White-Feather issued a challenge to Tang Zhongqin of the Golden-Feather.

     

    The first was WEI Gaoyuan and Song Mingyu. WEI Gaoyuan was defeated in one pattern by Wei Gaoyuan, and he should be most craving for an immediate blowing off, a quick win-back. Song Mingyu, the ninth of Ren this year, was just at the top of the ninth-level of the Mystery, undoubtedly, he was not a match for WEI Gaoyuan at all.

     

    Yet WEI Gaoyuan seemed to get the similar instruction from Elder Xu, so he didn’t let out all the strength to end the challenge until they fought more than ten rounds. It seemed like that the challenger was just stronger a little than his opponent.

     

    Although it was not a splendid victory, he did win, showing that he was absolutely not such a powerless fresh loser as the crowd thought.

     

    When he stepped down the platform, he took a look at Wei Gaoyuan, and then glanced at Qu Heyue.

     

    No one in the Cyan-Feather expected that Wei Gaoyuan would choose Qu Heyue. As a result, Dong Feiye kept his eyes open all night, pondering over how to handle Wei Gaoyuan, which turned out to be all in vain while he learned Wei Gaoyuan’s decision at dawn. Fortunately or unfortunately?

     

    Qu Heyue’s stage was the same as that of Dong Feiye, the top of the eighth-level, close to the seventh. Her virtual combating power was not far behind those of Dong Feiye and Liu Xingfei, in spite of that, she would hardly stand on the platform after 10 patterns by Wei Gaoyuan if he did as best as he could.

     

    All went as the script after it began. The No.1 of Gui seemed to be a match for his opponent. It looked like a long and hard competition, which showed no sign of end even after one hundred rounds passed.

     

    Qu Heyue didn't know the real strength of Wei Gaoyuan, nor had she seen the final competition of Gui. The current situation made her naturally suspect that something might not be the truth in the resent rumor about this boy, and that she might have a chance to win, so her patterns turned fiercer and faster.

     

    Liu Xingfei and a few disciples under the platform frowned, deep in thought.

     

    With the time passing by, the battle had reached its 200th rounds. Wei Gaoyuan was seen retreating close to the edge of the platform when Qu Heyue’s kicking was shot over his leg. Wei Gaoyuan raised his leg, kicked and hit her waist; when he withdrew his leg to regain his body, he was tripped up by her leg, “accidentally.” Then the two were falling down off the platform almost at the same time.

     

    It just ended in a draw.

     

    The Best Actor on the platform this year.

     

    Obviously, the Elders, including Elder Xu, had seen through what had happened. But no one around stopped or exposed his performance.

     

    To some disciples of high grades under the platform, Wei Gaoyuan seemed to be a cute boy who knew how to avoid embarrassing his sister.

     

    Of course, there must be some disciples who had snorted and complained such a boring time-wasting challenge.

     

    The final challenge was between two brothers of high grade. Xiao Jianping of the White-Feather was the No.1 of Wu this year, Tang Zhongqin the fourth of Ding. Both were at the fourth-level of the Mystery.

     

    This battle was not a kid’s game to scratch each other’s surface. The two didn’t seemed to meet on the platform for the first time. Since they drew out of their swords, the shadows of swords and the beams of Sword Qi had never stopped flying and flashing over the platform.

     

    Xiao Jianping's swordsmanship tended to be more fierce and devastating, while Tang Zhongqin’s was more stable and sophisticated. The impasse didn’t break until they fight over two hundred rounds: Xiao Jianping’s movement and patterns showed increasingly disordered yet Tang Zhongqin still acted steadily.

     

    By the time they got into the 300th round, everyone felt that it was just a matter of time for Tang Zhongqin to win when Xiao Jianping suddenly threw out his sword, the sword shooting at Tang Zhongqin like an arrow.

     

    Tang Zhongqin did not expect it, unconsciously moving aside to dodge it, which seemed to follow what Xiao Jianping had expected. He lowered his body and darted close to Tang Zhongqin, launching a rain of punches over his legs!

     

    Tang Zhongqin was not that good at movement techniques and wanted to jump back high to escape from the circle of close-body combat. At that time, something flashed within the sleeve of Xiao Jianping! And meanwhile, Tang Zhongqin fell down from the air just as he jumped!

     

    Xiao Jianping used a Concealed Weapon!


  • Chapter 61 In and out, Up and down

    The Concealed Weapon hit Tang Zhongqin’s knee, which made him lost balance in the air, and before he could get on his feet, Xiao Jianping had seized his long sword and pointed it against his chest.

     

    Everyone under the platform was dumbfounded at this time. It was the first time that they’d seen a disciple throwing a Concealed Weapon in a competition. Was it a decent victory or a violation of the rule? No one could give it an answer for a while.

     

    Moments later, Xiao Jianping withdrew the long sword, and said coldly, "You lose!"

    "Yes, I lose," Tang Zhongqin responded, his face blank.

     

    Xiao Jianping threw Tang Zhongqin's sword to the ground and turned away when an unfriendly voice came from the audience, "How could junior brother Xiao use the Concealed Weapon?!"

     

    It seemed to immediately resonate with some other audience, who began to talk about Xiao’s behavior.

     

    Xiao Jianping paused for a loud voice, "Could anyone tell me which rule prohibits using the Concealed Weapon during the year-end evaluation?"

     

    The crowd turned quiet. One of the referees said, "There is no such a rule… it’s the convention, in the competition, no one used it."

     

    "Then I didn’t violate any rule," Xiao Jianping said. "I violated your so-called ‘convention’ at best."

     

    "In spite of everything, the Concealed Weapon shouldn’t appear on the platform… as an honorable gentleman! It’s…it’s not a decent win! " the initial voice in the crowd came again.

     

    "Not decent?" Xiao Jianping chuckled. "Did I assert I’m an honorable gentleman? Did I assert I’ll compete in a decent way? I win. Brother Tang, am I wrong?"

     

    He looked at Tang Zhongqin, a look full of meaning. Tang Zhongqin nodded, something meaningful on his face. He seemed to get something to say, instead, he said nothing.

     

    Xiao Jianping didn't wait for Tang Zhongqin’s next word. He silently picked up his own long sword and slid it into the scabbard, and stepped down the platform, leaving the talking behind him and the referees in embarrassment.

     

    "I lost…" Tang Zhongqin sighed, like a deflated balloon.

     

    ...

     

    In the afternoon, a glimmer of sunshine finally broke out of the embrace of the clouds and showed up in the sky, as if to celebrate the successful ending of evaluation this year.

     

    After lunch, Wei Gaoyuan returned to his room. When he was about to comb up in his mind what had happened recently, Chu Yuntian knocked on his door.

     

    It was not Chu Yuntian's personal visit, but Elder Wu asked it. Putting everything aside, Wei Gaoyuan quickly followed Chu Yuntian to the Palace of Dark-Feather.

     

    As usual, Elder Wu saw Wei Gaoyuan mostly in the backyard. He expected it might not be something private. So, carefully adjusting his clothes and his hair outside the door, he kept his back straighter and walked into the Palace of Dark-Feather. There were three people in the hall, Elder Wu, and two disciples in the Cyan-Feather uniforms.

     

    Seeing Wei Gaoyuan's arrival, the two Cyan-Feather disciples greeted first with the cupped-fist, "It’s good to see you, Junior brother Wei!"

     

    Wei Gaoyuan didn’t know exactly why they were here. After giving Elder Wu a bow, he greeted with a cupped-fist in return, "Pleased to see you, brothers!"

     

    The two Cyan-Feather disciples smiled and nodded. one of them continued, "Elder Xu send us to bring some small gifts, to express the gratitude of the Cyan-Feather."

     

    The other took a cyan wooden box from the table, about a foot long and half a foot wide, and handed it to Wei Gaoyuan.

     

    "It..." Wei Gaoyuan unconsciously gave a glance at Elder Wu.

     

    Elder Wu nodded slightly. Wei Gaoyuan took the box with both hands, "Thank you, brothers! And please send my thanks to Elder Xu."

    "That's good," seeing Wei Gaoyuan had accepted the gifts, the person who just talked smiled. "after that, we shouldn’t disturb you any longer… "

     

    The two bowed to Elder Wu and cupped-fisted to Wei Gaoyuan

     

    Having noticed Elder Wu greeted with nodding then said nothing, Wei Gaoyuan, holding the box, bowed slightly, "Hope to see you again, brothers!"

     

    After the two left and disappeared into the distance, Wei Gaoyuan looked at the box in his arms then at Elder Wu, wondering if he should leave or open it now.

     

    Elder Wu smiled, "if you wanna know what's inside now, just open it."

     

    Wei Gaoyuan gave an awkward smile, opened the box: a piece of paper folded in its half, and a palm-sized circular object, looked like a bronze mirror.

     

    He picked up the paper first, which was full of characters and stamped, looked like some kind of bill. He opened it. It was a cheque issued by Daxuan Money House, of 100 gold coins! (20000 copper coins = 20 silver coins = 1 gold coin)

     

    Holding the cheque, Wei Gaoyuan shuddered.

     

    Daxuan Money House was the formal financial institution in the country of Daxuan, which operated businesses like storage and credit.

     

    In Daxuan, most of the common people used copper coins as the currency; for the rich large family, they usually used silver coins to exchange high-end stuff; as for gold coins, it only appeared among the elite, the official or upper-level people.

     

    The exchange rate between gold to silver was generally not fixed, as high as 1:40, occasionally, and as low as 1:8. In recent decades, the fluctuation of the rate changed not widely, at about 1:20. In spite of that, gold was still scarce. On the black market or in some undercover activities, 1 gold coin could exchange 22 silver coins.

     

    That meant, Wei Gaoyuan could exchange this little paper for 100 gold coins in Daxuan Money House, or 2000 silver coins, or even 2200 through some unorthodox way…

     

    Goo...

     

    That was the sound of Wei Gaoyuan’s swallowing the saliva.

     

    Except himself, no one here knew what that amount of coins meant to Wei Gaoyuan.

     

    When in White Plain Town, he had to spend a very hard day just for a few copper coins, for two white steamed bread to fill up the two poor stomachs of the brother and sister. If possible, he also needed to save some of them for Xiaoxue’s medical treatment.

     

    2000 silver coins, it was quite enough to buy a huge house in White Plain Town, yes, and fancy food on the table, and luxury clothes in the closet.

     

    Elder Wu coughed lightly, pulling Wei Gaoyuan back to reality.

     

    Wei Gaoyuan scratched his head in embarrassment, holding the cheque and saying, "Master, it..."

     

    "Yeah, I know, he’s kind of stingy sometimes, just 100 gold coins..." Elder Wu snorted, with a trace of discontent. "You take it first. I’ll give you a few hundreds more, it should be enough for you to visit relatives and friends after going down the mountain…"

     

    A few hundreds more! Gold or silver?

     

    A few hundred more silver coins were astronomical for him! Wei Gaoyuan’s mind seemed to get cramped…

     

    He thought even those high-level officials in the city could hardly possess such means. But he soon realized that his master was one of the Elders in the outer section, and one of the Nature, not less powerful than the Lord of Qizhou City. “A few hundred more gold coins” might not be a big deal for such a big master.

     

    His guess was correct yet he’d still underestimated the real influence of one in the Nature. Unlike the Mystery, the total of the Nature within the whole Daxuan was not so many as he imagined, furthermore, the Elders should be counted as the top of those in the Nature. Once they went down the mountain into the outside, a large number of people were willing to send them a mass of gold, silver, and kinds of valuables, just for gaining some potential Positive Karma.

     

    However, money was not as necessary as common people thought for getting acquainted with the Nature. To those wealthy big families in the town at the foot of the mountains, no more than a hundred of them might get the opportunity to send their children into the outer section by the way of donation.

     

    For the Nature, in that stage, money was nothing but money. What they cared most now was how to enjoy and break through the stage after the stage. Hence the Elders would rather learn to be a free bird to fly amid the high and deep mountains, and one day to leave the initial mountains and soar into the higher sky.  

     

    The world outside the mountains was an ideal access to gaining experience, as well as a perfect abyss to sink original heart of martial arts.

     

    An immortal, in that sense, was one who could succeed in walking up into the mountain from its outside after down into its outside after up into it from its outside.

     

    (“immortal”: “仙” in Chinese, which consists of two parts; “亻” on the left means “a human,” and “山” on the right means a mountain.)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


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