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Three Blades of the Fisherman’s Song doesn’t have a fourth move.
Mo Yu stood by the window silently. A lot of Li Palace clergy had only seen the elegance and power of Gou Han Shi’s three moves, but they couldn’t see what she did; it was precisely due to his previous match against Zhe Xiu draining him too much that prompted him to use his strongest three moves the moment the match had started; what he sought was a quick victory.
Of course, even though Gou Han Shi’s three blades had been propitiously avoided by Chen Chang Sheng, she still didn’t believe that youth to have any probability of winning, this was because a difference in cultivation level wasn’t something that can be completely made up for through tools alone, neither was it related to something as cheap as courage; since that hurdle existed, it couldn’t be surmounted.
That hurdle was called Ethereal Opening.
Gou Han Shi had already completed his Ethereal Opening, while Chen Chang Sheng was still impossibly far away from it, therefore the result of this match was predetermined, no matter how heavily injured or tired Gou Han Shi might become.
What was Ethereal Opening? This was opening heaven and earth through the Ethereal Palace; only by cultivating to this level will the body’s meridian channels be completely connected, with True Essence being able to flow endlessly, also, at this stage, heaven and earth was akin to the cultivator, with just the raising of a hand or foot, it would automatically give rise to a response.
True Essence would also be purer and stronger, if a cultivator at the meditation stage’s True Essence was said to be a stone, then a cultivator at the Ethereal Opening realm would have True Essence akin to a metal drill, being several times stronger.
The further one reaches in cultivation, the harder it becomes and the more dangerous. The hurdle of Ethereal Opening was even more unusual, the death rate is extremely high, therefore, this hurdle would often be referred to as a stage of life and death by young cultivators with feelings of trepidation and yearning.
The reason why the death rate is so high when going through Ethereal Opening is because the Ethereal Palace… is the heart.
The heart is far too fragile, once it sustains an injury, it is very hard to salvage, that’s why Ethereal Opening needs to be sought carefully.
Waiting till one had reached the upper stage of the Meditation Realm and utilising extremely cautious methods of self-observation to control the divine sense, guiding Starlight to lightly knock upon the Ethereal Palace’s door and finally, the heart.
The will being the same as that of heaven and earth, only then, would the Ethereal Palace’s door slowly open. Thus, there is a saying that Ethereal Opening is a cultivation of the heart’s will, something extremely difficult.
This needs at least a hundred nights of Star Brilliance knocking upon that door, with any sort of complication, the cultivator’s Ethereal Palace would be damaged. At best it would lead to heavy injuries and paralysis, but most commonly, it would directly lead to death itself.
Since the Heavenly Tomes descended and humanity started cultivating, countless young cultivators had fallen before this hurdle.
It was unknown as to how many young, talented and intelligent geniuses had tragically died like this. Therefore, the continent had always had the saying: “Only those geniuses that have achieved Ethereal Opening are true geniuses.”
Gou Han Shi has completed his Ethereal Opening before the age of twenty, he naturally was a genius, and more so, a prodigy.
How could Chen Chang Sheng possibly be his match?
Three Blades of the Fisherman’s Song, it seemed temperate upon sight, but in actuality, it utilises a large amount of True Essence, even with Gou Han Shi’s ability, upon expending three moves, he needed to pause for a moment, additionally, he had also developed some doubt over something.
Chen Chang Sheng used Rainfall whip and the Sword of Wen Shui to receive the first two blades, relying mostly upon the two heavenly weapon’s inherent power. But on the moment of contact, Gou Han Shi could clearly feel that Chen Chang Sheng’s True Essence was slightly abnormal, it didn’t seem to be, or more specifically, it shouldn’t be, as strong as what he displayed, but should be a little more average.
“Your meridian channels…” he looked at Chen Chang Sheng with his brows slightly raised, but in the end he didn’t say anything.
Chen Chang Sheng moved closer to the wall, gripping onto his short sword, cautiously staring at him, with his expression especially stern and focused. It wasn’t until he was sure that there won’t be a fourth move that he could relax slightly, using the fastest possible speed to turn his hand over and flick his finger.
He lightly flicked his left hand’s ring finger, that gold wire which was wound upon his fingertip straightened out with a ringing sound, becoming a gold needle, its tip was extremely sharp, glimmering with a cold glare.
He stabbed the needle into his neck with a lightning-quick motion, deeply, with only a small tip showing.
Following this motion, with the needle entering the opening, he continuously shuddered, helping him to quickly stabilise his divine sense once more, at the same time it stimulated the three broken meridian lines in his upper body, causing them to wound up tightly. After a formless scraping, though it naturally couldn’t allow his meridian channels to become linked, it gave the True Essence flow a wider channel.
Luo Luo and Xuan Yuan Po’s bodies were not the same as his, but through his guidance and treatment for them, Chen Chang Sheng’s understanding of meridians channels had become deeper; though he couldn’t treat his own illness, he could at least achieve this amount of alleviation.
Gou Han Shi didn’t know what he was currently doing and instead, thought it was a method for forcing out his own potential. For a canonical school such as Li Shan Sword Sect, this type of method would definitely be considered a corrupt discipline art. He couldn’t stop himself from frowning.
Chen Chang Sheng didn’t know what was currently going through Gou Han Shi’s head, neither could he concern himself with what Gou Han Shi might be thinking. Using his short sword to cut off a scrap of cloth from his upper clothing, he tightly tied his right hand to the short sword’s hilt, pulling it taut with his teeth.
Gou Han Shi’s brows were lightly knotted and his sword grip tightened considerably, this is because he could feel that something was different.
As Gou Han Shi’s grip tightened, Chen Chang Sheng moved; from the Horn Mansion to the Ox Mansion, transitioning from the East to the sky, within but a moment in time, his figure disappeared, and upon reappearing, he had already arrived before Gou Han Shi.
The short sword broke through the air and came down, yet encountered Gou Han Shi’s sword.
Gou Han Shi didn’t know all the complicated and inexplicable positions to Discerning Steps, but knew Discerning Steps itself, otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to expose Luo Luo’s footwork skill at the Ivy League gathering, neither would he had been able to predict his opponent’s movement and prepare sufficiently to meet the accurate blow from the sword in Chen Chang Sheng’s hand.
For all the angles surrounding his body, there wasn’t a single blind spot.
Two swords crossing, but they had yet to fully clash, there was still a minute distance between them; as the True Essence imbued upon the blades met, the air twisted and turned, then dissipated, being forced apart.
A ringing sound reverberated and Chen Chang Sheng flew backwards.
He had wanted to use the method that allowed him to obtain victory over Zhuang Huan Yu, the very same method Gou Han Shi had advised Liang Ban Hu to use in order to defeat Tang Thirty-Six.
Exchanging sword for sword and wound for wound, relying upon his incredibly tough body to seek victory, yet, who could have expected, without even having the two blades properly clash, Gou Han Shi had easily used a single move to force him back.
The most frightening thing was, even though the swords had already separated, Chen Chang Sheng could still clearly feel a strand of True Essence, following the blade’s length and traversing past his inner channels to directly attack his Ethereal Palace.
With a dull thump, Chen Chang Sheng’s inner mind had been injured by the sword manifestation, blood appear on the edge of his mouth and his footsteps touched upon the floor, unable to stand stably. He retreated once and again until he reached the wall, before finally being able to forcefully stand firmly.
A blade’s edge cut through the air, and he raised his sword horizontally in order to maintain a defensive posture. His face was pallid and blood trickled from his lips, looking rather miserable, but what was even more miserable was his current state of mind.
Gou Han Shi really was very strong, far stronger than Zhuang Huan Yu, he couldn’t exchange wound for wound even if he wanted to.
A shrill and forlorn sound once again resounded within the tower and Gou Han Shi’s sword once again came at him, this time the move used was Thirteen Swords of a Toppling Star; the sword struck out like a star, seemingly constant, yet hard to follow.
*PA* *PA* *PA* *PA*
Tens crisp sounds continuously arose.
Chen Chang Sheng could no longer guard the area under his feet and was forced to turn towards his left, continuously retreating, with his steps chaotic, trudging up the damp sand as he retreated a distance of over 30 metres.
As he finally stood firm, he could no longer suppress the malefic feeling within his chest and a sound escaped from his mouth, alongside a mouthful of blood.
Gou Han Shi held his sword, calmly standing within the arena, the gaze he directed at Chen Chang Sheng did not contain any sort of mockery, scorn or taunting, but rather, it had a faint admiration and respect.
From Three Blades of the Fisherman’s Song to Thirteen Swords of a Toppling Star, he had used the most powerful and familiar moves he knew. Through over ten years of bitter training, these sword manoeuvres were unending and as fast as lightning, with each manoeuvre following the other. No matter what opponent he was to face, under this chaining momentum, they would undoubtedly become flustered, their defeat looming.
Chen Chang Sheng couldn’t block those moves, retreating time and time again in a rather dismal fashion and was wounded by True Essence, continuously coughing up blood, but his steps were still solid and his mind remained calm.
That’s because Chen Chang Sheng’s knew what he had to do to counter those sword manoeuvres.
Due to limitations of time, Chen Chang Sheng’s cultivation on the path of the sword couldn’t reach a pinnacle. Knowing the path but being unable to carry it out, yet, his knowledge on the way of the sword was extremely deep and broad, being especially familiar with the swords arts of Li Shan Sword Sect.
Where others wouldn’t even know how to counter Gou Han Shi’s sword manoeuvres, he could find the most appropriate move for countering, if it wasn’t for the levels between them being too different, he would perhaps be able to receive those moves a lot easier.
It was a pity then, that the difference between levels is something difficult to surmount.
Chen Chang Sheng looked at Gou Han Shi silently, the right hand that was gripping onto his sword lightly trembled.
Having truly experienced the might of the Ethereal Opening realm and feeling that strand of True Essence which was still continuously attacking him within his inner channels, he was certain that if he hadn’t used cloth to bind the sword hilt to his hand, the sword would have probably already left his grasp.
The most evident difference of this gap between levels was in the purity, or perhaps strength of True Essence. He clearly understood that this difference wasn’t something that can be shortened in such a short time, therefore, he could only think of a different method; to try and close in on this difference through sheer quantity.
What I have is silver, what you have is gold. Silver is inferior, whilst gold is precious, then if I wish to overwhelm you in terms of fortune, I can only rely upon having a quantity of silver that engulfs you, that’s right, it’s that simple.
With his mind set, Chen Chang Sheng unhesitatingly began to meditate and self-observe. His divine sense went from without to within, traversing tens of thousands of miles in but an instant and arriving at that pure white snow plain. His divine sense, akin to a gust of wind, alighted upon a snow plain in the Southeast.
At that instant, it seemed as if he could hear some sort of sound, with that sound being akin to dry leaves that had accumulated for some years being set on fire.
As if someone had added fuel to a burning pyre.
A meeting of the strongest liquor and the prettiest girl.
With a rippling sound; a loud whoosh resounded; then, a cheer.
The wind was like an inferno, dropping down. The Southeastern snow plain fragment was immediately set ablaze. The Star Brilliance that had remained undisturbed for many months became a violent blaze, setting alight everything around it.
Chen Chang Sheng’s body instantly became incredibly hot and the very air around him heated up.
A horrifying heat took hold of his body and mind, all water became beads of sweat and quickly dissipated. It was unknown as to if this was the reason, but his muscles lost its water content, giving rise to waves of pain that felt like he was being ripped apart.
The biggest source of pain was a feeling; he subconsciously stuck out his tongue to greedily lick his lips, fighting against the feeling of irresistible thirst that came from them.
He really was very thirsty, really wanting to drink some water and really wanting to be deluged within icy cold rain.
The people observing the match had remained quiet. That was until they saw Chen Chang Sheng hold up his sword horizontally in front of him and the atmosphere within the tower suddenly becoming abnormally warm. With this, they finally realised that something was happening.
“He’s doing initial meditation again?”
“How is this possible?”
“Just how much Star Brilliance does he have inside of him?”
“Where is all that Star Brilliance being stored?”
Up on the second floor, countless sounds of shocked, exclaiming questions could be heard.