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Chi Yan was stunned.
He had never thought Jing Jiu would mention the Plum Meeting and then ask to take part in the Sword Trial.
Others hadn't thought of it either. There was an eerie silence in the stone forest.
Chi Yan came back to his senses. He thought it was ridiculous. "You are not a disciple of the third generation anymore," he said, "so you can't participate in the Sword Trial."
"How can I participate in the Plum Meeting then?" asked Jing Jiu.
You are a master of the second generation now, thought Chi Yan. If you really want to be humiliated by Tong Yan, there are other options, like being a chaperone.
"Many people might find it unfair if I get the qualification to take part in the Plum Meeting without taking the Sword Trial," said Jing Jiu.
The crowd thought it was nice to hear him admit it.
Of course, nobody thought Jing Jiu deserved the qualification, especially for those disciples who thought their sword Cultivation efforts might earn them a spot at the Plum Meeting through the Sword Trial. They admitted that Jing Jiu had a superior talent in swordsmanship, but he was still too young and his Cultivation state was too low. If he hadn't had the good fortune to follow Zhao Layue in climbing up Shenmo Peak, how else could he have become their senior master?
"I still want to participate."
Jing Jiu looked at the place where disciples of Liangwang Peak were stood. "If I won, nobody would think I don't deserve it," he said.
Having heard this, the disciples of Green Mountain were disturbed by his arrogance.
Chi Yan thought about it briefly. "The draw is over, so it's too late to arrange anything."
"Naming is fine," said Jing Jiu.
Jian Ruoshan had named him as an opponent, so he could name someone as his opponent.
Many people followed Jing Jiu's gaze toward the second stone platform on the cliff.
"Please offer me your guidance."
Jing Jiu said this while looking at a disciple of Liangwang Peak.
The person was rather fat, giving an impression that he wouldn't harm anyone, whether human or animal.
That chubby person was named Ma Hua. It was not a noticeable name, and he was ranked thirty-seventh on Liangwang Peak, which was not very noticeable ranking either.
Most disciples of Liangwang Peak were popular, but many people didn't know him. He obviously kept a low-profile, or was easily ignored.
The disciples discussed it, and still couldn't figure out why Jing Jiu named this person as his opponent.
As for the outcome…Jing Jiu was still in the State of Inherited Will, so any disciple of Liangwang Peak should be able to defeat him easily. However, earlier Liu Shisui had easily defeated Jian Ruoshan, who was ranked forty-sixth on Liangwang Peak. Who knew what kind of surprise Jing Jiu might have in store for them?
Ma Hua came up to the arena with the sword light, looking at Jing Jiu with a warm smile. "How do you know it was me who told on Liu Shisui?" he asked Jing Jiu in a whisper.
"I don't," replied Jing Jiu.
"Why did you name me as your opponent?" asked Ma Hua, his expression slightly changed.
He thought Jing Jiu had figured out the truth and wanted to take revenge for Liu Shisui.
Jing Jiu didn't know that Shangde Peak suspected Liu Shisui's involvement in the death of Zhuo Yi of Bihu Peak because Ma Hua had discovered that Liu wasn't in his manor cave that night.
He also didn't know that both Ma Hua and Gu Han knew Jing Jiu wasn't in his manor cave that night; Liu Shisui insisted on not saying where he had been that night in order to protect Jing Jiu.
Jing Jiu somehow knew that this unnoticeable chubby guy was the top advisor on Liangwang Peak, and that Shisui's situation was his responsibility.
More importantly, he had disliked this fat man ever since they were at the Stream of Sword Washing.
Ma Hua stopped smiling and looked at him cautiously.
It had been four years. He still couldn't figure out this young man, so Ma Hua had been cautious, even hostile toward Jing Jiu.
"I know you're concealing your true strength. For instance, I have never seen you ride the sword, but I'm certain you could…"
"Regardless of whether I win or lose," he said to Jing Jiu, "I can discover some of your secrets today, which is not a bad deal."
Having said that, he rose up on his flying sword, rode through the clouds and landed on a stone post high above the ground.
Judging from his sword light, Ma Hua was in the initial State of the Undefeated, so his Cultivation state was quite ordinary by the standard of Liangwang Peak.
Countless gazes were fixed on Jing Jiu, full of curiosity.
Many sword washing disciples could ride the swords. It was an easy task for the disciples participating in the Sword Trial today.
Jing Jiu should have been able to ride the sword, but nobody had seen him do so.
Some thought he had encountered some kind of bizarre obstacles in his Cultivation.
People wanted to know how he was to get atop a stone post three hundred feet high.
If he couldn't get on the stone post, how could he pass the Sword Trial?
Chi Yan raised his right hand, motioning for Jing Jiu to go ahead.
Jing Jiu untied the iron sword behind his back and pointed it toward the sky.
It was a strange-looking gesture. It looked like a hunter holding a torch in his hand while walking in a dark forest.
Seeing this scene, the disciples felt it was a bit odd. What was he going to do?
Chi Yan thought of a possibility, and raised his eyebrows slightly.
Those white-haired elders on the stone platforms felt they might have seen it somewhere. Was it the Heavenly Torch form of the Nine-Deaths sword style?
In ancient times, there were many different methods for sword Cultivation and sword riding, but gradually the methods became fewer and fewer, until now everybody rode the sword for traveling. There was a reason for this.
Riding the sword was easier for traveling, and more relaxed for the riders. More importantly, standing on the flying swords freed the practitioners' hands, making it easier to use their hands to employ sword movements and attack their opponents.
If one used a different sword riding method, with hands holding onto the hilt, one would have less flexibility.
A sudden rumbling sound roared at the bottom of the stone forest.
As the air waves flooded the space and the pebbles rolled on the ground, Jing Jiu disappeared from his original spot.
Nobody realized what was going on in time.
People lifted their heads to look up, and they saw a hole had appeared in the clouds, where a black dot was vaguely visible.
Had his fear caused him to flee the fight, or what?
They stared at the sky, falling silent.
Along with a whistling sword, Jing Jiu came back into view, landing on a stone post.
He appeared calm, unconcerned by what others thought of him.
Zhao Layue felt a bit embarrassed. She kept her head lowered as she drank her tea.
She thought that perhaps he hadn't ridden the sword for a long time, and he had become clumsy and had lost control… so he flew a little too high.
It was really high.
The masters of Green Mountain saw it all and felt surprised. Jing Jiu had flown all the way to the very top of the Green Mountain Formation and then dropped down.
He was still in the State of Inherited Will, yet he could fly on his sword to such a height in such a short time. This young disciple was definitely a promising talent in swordsmanship for the Green Mountain.
Standing on a stone post one hundred yards away, there was a hint of seriousness on Ma Hua's fat face the first time. "I didn't expect your sword riding to be so good. You have concealed it all this time so that you could surprise everybody someday. Today you have been forced to use it. I feel sorry for you."
Jing Jiu didn't respond. The reason why he didn't ride the sword in the past had nothing to do with concealing his true strength or hoping to surprise everybody. He had his own reason.
Ma Hua smiled. Suddenly he flew up on his sword and landed on a stone post further away.
Now the distance between their respective stone posts was over four hundred yards.
A disciple in the State of Inherited Will couldn't drive his sword to attack his opponent when the distance was over three hundred yards.
Even if Jing Jiu had special talent and his Cultivation achievement was far superior to the regular disciples in the State of Inherited Will, his flying sword would be very weak when it reached Ma Hua, devoid of its lethal force.
Seeing this scene, Shangde Peak and the disciples of other peaks frowned, but the disciples of Liangwang Peak didn't change their expressions.
The disciples of Liangwang Peak were quite familiar with Ma Hua's way of dealing with things. They knew he wouldn't miss a single detail and that he didn't care about others' views, but only about winning.
Today's sword fight was no exception.