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Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
In those hasty brushstrokes, Guan Bai saw Zhou Ziheng's technique that seemed like a solitary boat emerging from a place beyond the heavens. The energy it carried was, as expected, majestic and boundless.
But he could even more vividly make out Chen Changsheng's technique.
That technique was just a single word.
Just a single word.
Like a great dam, like an iron chain, like the stones of a cliff, like a sword being brought up to slit the throat in suicide.
Guan Bai faintly felt a pain in his chest.
If his junior brother had been able to understand the principles behind this sword strike, taking the 'straight' from all things, how could things have reached this point?
He gazed at his bewildered schoolmates and said, "This technique—Chen Changsheng has practiced it at least ten thousand times."
The students of the Heavenly Dao Academy were perplexed. They asked, "Is just that enough?"
"From what I understand, Chen Changsheng has practiced the sword for not more than a year. In this brief period of time, he took such a simple technique and practiced it ten thousand times."
Guan Bai emotionlessly continued, "If a person so clumsy with a sword has managed to respond to Zhou Ziheng's attack, how could Zhou Ziheng possibly win?"
After saying this, he shook his head, got up, and walked out of the room.
The scenery of the Heavenly Dao Academy was like a painting. No matter where you walked, it was all scenic, such as that lake and mountain directly ahead.
At the edge of the lake stood a man with a very lonely figure.
He was the Principal of the Heavenly Dao Academy, Zhuang Huanyu's father.
He turned around and said to Guan Bai, "Your evaluation of Chen Changsheng is very high."
Guan Bai replied, "Since he's already been decided as my opponent, my evaluation should be even more cold and objective."
Principal Zhuang asked, "If I were to tell you that Chen Changsheng only learned that technique at most thirty days ago, would your evaluation of him be even higher?"
At these words, Guan Bai did not speak for a very long time. Finally, he said, "Despite what Sir thinks, in the end, Zhuang Huanyu was my junior brother. I have to do a few things on his behalf."
Principal Zhuang sighed, "It seems you will definitely have to participate in the Boiling Stone Summit."
Guan Bai replied, "Yes, because I want to know, if I give Chen Changsheng three hundred more days, just how far his technique will progress."
At the gate of the Orthodox Academy, Zhou Ziheng's sword carried the powerful force of a storm. If the Li Palace priests had not come last night to set up a spell array in advance, the surrounding spectators all might have been injured by this sword energy.
Precisely as Guan Bai had seen in that drawing, Chen Changsheng only used a single technique.
Of course, it was impossible that he only used one technique. Here, one technique meant he used that one technique many times. From the moment Zhou Ziheng's sword came carrying a storm to the final cessation of the berserk winds and great waves, he only used one technique.
In Guan Bai's eyes, he was a person clumsy with the sword, so the technique he used was naturally also somewhat clumsy.
It was precisely the third sword that Su Li had taught him.
This sword had a very idiotic name: the Stupid Sword.
This technique looked very stupid. Sometimes it looked like one was toting a carrying pole, sometimes it looked like one was leading a horse, and other times it looked like one was prepared to slit their own throat. In short, it didn't seem at all like one was attacking with a sword.
The edges of the sword were never exposed outward and the sword itself always remained flat and straight in front of his body.
This seemingly very simple technique was actually not simple at all, because not even Su Li had managed to successfully train in it. In reality, Chen Changsheng was the first person to ever learn the Stupid Sword.
In order to train in this technique, nothing was required. Talent and comprehension were both unnecessary. It only required incessant practice, stupid and clumsy repetition, and also the firm belief that this technique could be learned.
Zhou Ziheng's sword truly was powerful. His sword energy was like a wave, incessantly crashing towards Chen Changsheng. Yet no matter what he did, Zhou Ziheng could not get past this technique.
The sword in Chen Changsheng's hand had turned into an iron chain pulled taut by a massive boat, it had become an unbending tree.
Zhou Ziheng's sword that was like a solitary boat had been stymied.
Zhou Ziheng's sword that had come like a storm had also been stymied.
No matter how ingenious Zhou Ziheng's sword techniques were, they found it impossible to break through Chen Changsheng's defense. The edge of his sword stabbed countless times against Chen Changsheng's sword, causing innumerable sparks to shoot out.
When the two swords clashed, they emitted boundless light. The vast majority of spectators were so blinded that they covered up their eyes. They all thought in astonishment that Zhou Ziheng truly was worthy of being called a Star Condensation expert. His sword emerged like the wind and needed only an instant to press down on Chen Changsheng, forcing him to retreat step by step.
Ordinary people could not understand the state of the battle, but naturally, there were people that could understand it.
In the moment that Chen Changsheng took out his sword, a cry of surprise burst out from the pavilion. As the painter from the Pavilion of Divination began to draw his second picture, the tip of his brush began to tremble.
In the tea house within Hundred Flowers Lane, Xue Xingchuan sat by the window gazing at the sword glows that blazed with incomparable brilliance. He silently thought about the letter from his brother, and then thought to himself, this child has actually managed to take another step in his swordplay.
The sword glows made it impossible to look at the battle directly. It was like numberless lightning bolts flashing.
Accompanying them were countless peals of thunder.
In the next moment, the rumbling of clashing swords suddenly came to a halt.
Zhou Ziheng drew back his sword. As he stared at Chen Changsheng who had already been pushed to right in front of the gate, he was filled with an indescribable shock.
He could never have imagined that Chen Changsheng would actually be able to defend against so many of his attacks!
It must be known that his Stormswept Solitary Boat Sword emphasized energy and was exceptionally tyrannical, not even mentioning the fact that he was at Star Condensation Realm while Chen Changsheng was only at Ethereal Opening!
Even if Chen Changsheng's swordplay was even more exquisite, taking into account the difference in cultivation, just how had Chen Changsheng been able to block so many of his attacks? He wasn't even injured, and not even the hands holding his sword had begun to tremble!
Soon after, the shock in Zhou Ziheng’s eyes was fiercely and harshly removed and his partially damaged self-confidence became firm once more.
Because Chen Changsheng had retreated.
He had not allowed Zhou Ziheng's Stormswept Solitary Boat Sword to fall upon his body, but he also had not been able to stand firm.
Ultimately, he was still at the Ethereal Opening Realm. Even though his body had been bathed in dragon blood, even though he possessed a strong body and strength on par with that of a Star Condensation cultivator, there was still a gap that he could not fill.
Particularly because his meridians were broken. There was no need to compare his output of true essence with Zhou Ziheng, because his output of true essence was less than even that of cultivators at the same level as him.
Zhou Ziheng recalled the details of their recent clash. Based on the vibrations he had felt from his sword whenever they clashed, he was able to confirm this fact.
Xue Xingchuan in the tea house and the powerful figures under the awning also simultaneously confirmed this fact.
Chen Changsheng's swordplay truly was exceptionally exquisite and his strength was even more freakish beyond belief, but his output of true essence was insufficient.
His true essence was insufficient to endure this level of battle.
The cultivations of these individuals were not at all weaker than Guan Bai's, and a powerful figure like Xue Xingchuan even far surpassed him. However, they were not people that walked the path of the sword.
It was impossible for them to read from Chen Changsheng's swordplay his self-confidence.
Zhou Ziheng was a person that walked the path of the sword, but he was also one of the people involved, so he also could not read it.
He believed that he had seen through Chen Changsheng's weakness, causing his self-confidence to be reborn.
He gazed at Chen Changsheng, his lips revealing a mocking smile as he prepared to say a few words.
Chen Changsheng gave him no chance. He directly thrust his sword at him.
At this time, the gate of the Orthodox Academy was very quiet, like the moment before daybreak, or the eve of a storm.
At these times, there would often be the cry of a bird, or a swallow flying low. And then the sun would break over the horizon, the rain would come crashing down.
This was a sort of tempo.
Chen Changsheng's attack very simply broke this tempo.
Because this tempo was broken, both Zhou Ziheng and the spectators felt extremely uneasy.
The sun had arrived too quickly, the rain had too abruptly descended.
From the awning came the sounds of tables and chairs abruptly being overturned.
In the tea house, Xue Xingchuan quickly stood up, his face filled with disbelief.
In a battle, breaking an opponent's tempo was a very common sight.
The problem was that there were very few people that could do it as naturally as Chen Changsheng.
The true reason for their shock lay within, because it was highly likely that this indicated that this battle's tempo...had actually been in Chen Changsheng's hands the entire time!
The gap between Star Condensation and Ethereal Opening was extraordinarily vast. In this sort of battle, the latter could struggle bitterly, engage in bloody battle, and explode with talent. They could even be like Wang Po and miraculously break through in the middle of the battle. But for the weaker side to actually be in control of the battle's tempo the entire time, to completely use the mentality of an expert to face his opponent, just what sort of self-confidence was this!?
Just where did his self-confidence come from!?
Some of the people under the awning had been able to understand, and as a result tossed their tea cups away in absolute shock and kicked over their tables and chairs.
In the tea house, Xue Xingchuan has also understood, so he quickly stood up, so shocked that he could find nothing to say.
Chen Changsheng's self-confidence was in his sword.
This single sword.
The first sword which he sent towards Zhou Ziheng.
This sword so wondrous that it seemed made by the heavens.
This sword that was absolutely unavoidable.
This sword that had already cut off Zhou Ziheng's every path of retreat.
If Zhou Ziheng had decided to retreat with his fastest speed the moment Chen Changsheng had launched his attack, then perhaps he would still have a chance, but he did not.
Because he was in the Star Condensation Realm, while Chen Changsheng was in the Ethereal Opening Realm. When he represented the Temple Seminary in challenging the Orthodox Academy, everyone had felt that it was an example of the strong bullying the weak and looked upon him with extreme contempt. Under these circumstances, if he were to be forced back by Chen Changsheng's one attack, he would be losing face. Of course, he knew that this one attack of Chen Changsheng's was assuredly very powerful. Whether it was based on the rumors that he was the Pope's junior or that he had traveled together for many days with that master of the path of the sword, this attack was inevitably not simple. Thus, he also chose to not receive, but rather avoid it.
As a result, he realized in amazement that Chen Changsheng's sword gave off the feeling that he could not avoid it.
Just what sort of sword was this?
At the most dangerous moment, Zhou Ziheng finally renounced all obsessions and returned to the mindset of a swordsman. With a clear whistle, the longsword slashed down several times through the air.
A protective screen that was difficult to describe was birthed from his sword energy, cutting him off from Chen Changsheng.
On that protective screen faintly flowed beautiful starlight. That starlight had come from his sword, but its source was an even higher and more distant place—the sky.
This was the most powerful method of Star Condensation experts and was also precisely the reason why the Star Condensation Realm was so named.
Star Condensation experts were able to use their true essence to forcefully reverse the flow of starlight, as if their Fated Stars had entered their bodies. From this, they were able to form their own domain called the Star Domain. The Star Domain was a world formed from themselves. Within, the radiance of the stars would flow without end. It was nigh-perfect and could be described as impregnable. It could only be crushed by an even higher cultivation or an even more powerful true essence.
When a Meditation Realm cultivating genius fought an Ethereal Opening Realm cultivator, there was still a slight possibility of surpassing cultivation levels and obtaining victory. For instance, Luoluo's innate blood talent was extremely tyrannical. At the Meditation Realm, she could fight against ordinary cultivators at the initial level of Ethereal Opening. However, an Ethereal Opening Realm cultivator wanting to obtain victory over a Star Condensation cultivator was basically impossible, precisely because of the existence of the Star Domain.
Unless it was absolutely necessary, Zhou Ziheng did not want to use the Star Domain, because that would be far too unseemly.
But at this moment, he had to use it because Chen Changsheng's sword was truly too frightening.
In front of the Orthodox Academy, starlight shone as if it wished to vie with the sun in radiance.
Shocked cries rose up from the crowd, and it was also possible to hear the sounds of cursing.
Under the awning, some people had sat back down, especially those powerful figures that supported the Tianhai clan. They even revealed smiles.
However, Xue Xingchuan did not sit back down. He continued to watch the battle.
In his Star Domain, Zhou Ziheng had an extremely ugly expression. Even if he won today's battle, he had won in too unsightly a fashion.
But victory was always better than defeat.
Separated by the faint star radiance and watching Chen Changsheng's sword, he wanted to tell his opponent ‘although you cannot defeat me, that you forced me to reveal my Star Domain is something to be proud of.’
These words were not bad, carrying some of the bearing of a capable senior.
Zhou Ziheng thought this way. After Chen Changsheng's sword was blocked by his Star Domain and his own sword easily obtained victory, he was prepared to say similar words before the crowd.
And then, he heard a soft squelch.
What sound was this?
That was the sound of a sword piercing into his body.
That was the sound of Chen Changsheng's sword piercing into his body.
Chen Changsheng's sword, without the slightest pause, pierced through his Star Domain and stabbed into his chest.
His face instantly paled and his mind filled with an inconceivable shock. He yelled in rage, "How can this be!"
Several howls of shock erupted from beneath the awning. "Just what's going on here!"