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How would Chen Chang Sheng counter the Secret Sword of the Golden Crow? Why was he acting so confident?
Was it because the full form of Li Shan’s Sword Arts was currently at Orthodox Academy and he knew their swords arts like the back of his hand?
No, this secret sword was a legacy of that legendary junior uncle, that junior uncle’s complex relationship with Li Shan Sword Sect and the entire Longevity Sect meant that this sword art wasn’t entered into the full manual, thus, Chen Chang Sheng definitely would not have seen it before.
Though Gou Han Shi was slightly enraged, he had thought of this point, therefore he was even more confused, those personages up on the second floor also couldn’t understand, having indescribable expressions.
Chen Chang Sheng was indeed unable to counter this powerful move, he clearly knew this, but this didn’t mean he had to concede defeat, because apart from countering, there are a lot of methods to face it.
His wrist twirled akin to a falling leaf, and the short sword cut through the curtain of rain, becoming a thin line of rain, slanting from the lower right upwards, slashing towards Gou Han Shi.
He had never intended to counter Gou Han Shi’s sword, neither had he intended to block it or dodge, he completely ignored the sword and only quietly concerned himself with his own blade’s movement.
With the scorching Sun above, the remnants of rain inside of the tower became countless, dense, golden strands. Several golden strands fell upon Chen Chang Sheng’s face, but these couldn’t even make him blink. He stared at Gou Han Shi’s face and continued advancing, his speed suddenly increased once more, arriving before Gou Han Shi’s body like a flash of lightning.
He was using Zhong Shan’s Sword of Wind and Rain, not the most powerful movement of Turbulent Heaven and Earth, but the most absolute, most unrelenting seventh movement: A Fervent Blade.
Being fervent and generous is opposed to being miserly, but the word fervent could also be used for other situations. A situation such as fervently meeting death; this word, at times, could represent a certain spirit, manner, presence; the spirit of disregarding life and death.
Chen Chang Sheng’s body and sword encapsulated this spirit, completely ignoring the Sun upon Gou Han Shi’s blade, ignoring the most mysterious and powerful sword art of Li Shan Sword Sect, ignoring all these things and rushing ahead.
If Gou Han Shi didn’t change his manoeuvre, then Chen Chang Sheng would undoubtedly be cleaved apart at the next moment by the technique, but at the same time, Chen Chang Sheng’s sword would also slice apart Gou Han Shi’s chest.
The seventh movement from Zhong Shan’s Sword of Wind and Rain had a fervent presence, though it didn’t have as much power as the Secret Sword of the Golden Crow, Gou Han Shi would probably die or be heavily injured upon receiving this strike; the problem was, no one knew what the result might be.
The personages up on the second floor could tell what Chen Chang Sheng’s intent was and let out cries of alarm.
Gou Han Shi could perceive it more clearly, within but a moment, countless thoughts filled his head – Chen Chang Sheng wanted to pit their lives against each other, determining who had the better chance of living, this was naturally something he wouldn’t accept; he was stronger, and thus, had an inherent advantage.
Li Shan’s sword struck out horizontally, the Golden Crow’s sword momentum immediately transitioned into a defensive stance.
The two swords still didn’t touch, the rustle of pines once again appeared, extremely densely.
Chen Chang Sheng’s Fervent Blade didn’t have any chance of approaching Gou Han Shi’s vitals.
All that could be heard was a loud ringing sound within the tower, its reverberations dispersing in all directions, Chen Chang Sheng was sent flying backwards while tumbling, spinning in the air several times before landing upon the ground, his boots stamping out several rippling flower patterns upon the water.
Silence filled the tower. Those up on the second floor looked at Chen Chang Sheng with complex expressions, such a powerful and terrifying Secret Sword of the Golden Crow was actually countered by Chen Chang Sheng using such a simple method.
Of course, in actuality, this wasn’t simple in the slightest.
If Chen Chang Sheng hadn’t chosen the sharpest and most unyielding movement from Zhong Shan’s Sword of Wind and Rain, conveying an incredibly repressive feeling to Gou Han Shi, while ensuring he didn’t reveal any sort of weakness in his state of mind, how could he have forced Gou Han Shi to abandon such an advantageous position?
Chen Chang Sheng once again swiftly lunged forwards, his short sword carrying with it a crisp cutting sound, slicing through the air to strike at Gou Han Shi.
His face didn’t have any sort of expression, the vitality and refreshing feeling that had previous appeared, was akin to a misconception, with his face once again becoming quiet and stoic, yet remaining resolute.
What kind of sword was this? Those observing the match continuously tried to guess.
Gou Han Shi raised his sword and broke through the air, carrying with it a horrifying force of True Essence, directly scattering the countless layers of rain that was slowly falling within the tower, his sword manifestation travelled from all directions, striking towards Chen Chang Sheng.
Chen Chang Sheng’s expression didn’t change, remaining the same as it had been before. He didn’t even give a glance or pay it any attention, focusing all his concentration upon his own sword to a terrifying degree and striking out with a thrust.
A sharp and mournful sword wail rang out within the tower.
His technique was not as transcendent as Gou Han Shi’s, but it was far simpler, with his thoughts even more so.
It looked as if he had struck out first, but he had actually struck last, in the end, both swords arrived at the same time, howling as they crossed.
The two blades still didn’t have the chance to meet.
It remained life against life, a state of mutual destruction.
Gou Han Shi let out a single hiss, the hiss was filled with anger and a faint sense of frustration.
The Li Shan Sword within his hand became akin to a multitude of blossoming flowers.
“A Brocade of Blossoms,” a gasp came down from the second floor.
At the very last moment, Gou Han Shi had changed his manoeuvre, but it still followed the momentum, turning the rain into a multitude of blossoms; with a single move, he had instantly left behind several sword wounds upon Chen Chang Sheng’s shoulder.
This manoeuvre of a changing sword was exquisitely sublime, and could be said to fully demonstrate Li Shan Sword Sect’s standard and level, however, it was nevertheless a change at the last moment and inevitably lacked a little in might and spirit.
Though his Brocade of Blossoms manoeuvre had injured Chen Chang Sheng, it couldn’t defeat him, at the same time, his own upper left arm had been gashed open by Chen Chang Sheng’s sword.
After entering the Ethereal Opening realm, Chen Chang Sheng had crossed swords against Gou Han Shi twice, they would all end with this type of result. He was using swift and fierce manoeuvres that aimed for mutual destruction, as if he had never considered being able to defeat his opponent.
The two of them stood at opposite ends of the tower, calmly observing each other, silent and wordless. Between them there were countless layers of rain, as if it were veiling many things and obscuring their respective visages.
Gou Han Shi’s expression was grave, because he was certain as to what Chen Chang Sheng wanted to do.
Chen Chang Sheng grasped the blade in his hand and nodded his head in acknowledgement to the faraway Gou Han Shi, a conveyance of apology.
That’s right, he was not Gou Han Shi’s equal, no matter how strenuously he had trained, how high his talent or how many scriptures of the way he had read, he was still inferior to Gou Han Shi.
That’s because Gou Han Shi’s training was also strenuous, his talent was also high and he had also read all the scriptures. With Gou Han Shi’s age being greater than Chen Chang Sheng’s, he had also cultivated for a longer time.
Even if Chen Chang Sheng was to seek desperately, using the battles of the examination to constantly improve himself, to the point of having achieved Ethereal Opening with that manner which could shock the world, he still couldn’t possibly be Gou Han Shi’s equal in battle.
Failing at Purification and then continuing to purify, risking his life to meditate and then continuing to undergo multiple initial meditations, all until he had inexplicably achieved Ethereal Opening. All of this was still insufficient for defeating a strong opponent in terms of cultivation level, this feeling seemed a little bitter, but Chen Chang Sheng didn’t think like this.
He wasn’t disappointed, neither did he lose hope, rather, he was full of confidence over being able to obtain victory in this match, because he had currently obtained the qualifications to pit life against life with Gou Han Shi.
Before obtaining this increase of level, before achieving Ethereal Opening, the difference between him and Gou Han Shi was far larger, wanting to die with his opponent was something he couldn’t even do, currently, at the very least, he had obtained that right.
This was enough.
Because no one else had as much experience in facing death as he does.
In other words, no one feared death as much as he did, nor remained as fearless of death as he.
Gou Han Shi couldn’t understand Chen Chang Sheng’s strength in this aspect, but he could perceive it, therefore, if he wished to defeat Chen Chang Sheng, then he also had to bring out what he was strongest with.
“Try this manoeuvre of mine,” he said to Chen Chang Sheng, he then calmly walked forward, his steps firm and slow, his gaze becoming increasingly bright, as if he had returned to the time when he was still but a child studying at a rural school.
Gou Han Shi’s manoeuvre was very simple, from above to below, a slash across.
It was perhaps even a little shabby.
But that manoeuvre was not ordinary in the slightest, with the movement above it reached the deep-blue heavens, with the movement below it reached the golden earth; between heaven and earth it was this sword, this strike belonged to reality’s fragmentary world.
However, this manoeuvre really was extremely shabby.
Those seeing this move and perceiving its manifestation all felt a little sorrowed.
Everyone could see their own bitter experiences of the past.
Gou Han Shi saw even more, because this was a manoeuvre he had created himself.
He saw the poverty of his family back in his childhood; his mother made a living by washing the clothes of relatives from the same clan, he himself didn’t have any money to enter the village school, having to kneel at the door of that teacher who had a triangular beard for an entire night.
After entering the village school, he could study, but he didn’t have money for a stove.
The chill wind from outside the window was cold to the bone; this represented his strenuous studies. Neither did he have any dinner, only being able to cook a pot of cold gruel every morning, and cutting it into two once it hardened, one piece per meal; this represented eating coldly.
Strenuously studying for ten years, then how many did he spend on eating coldly?
Upon the motions of that manoeuvre, Gou Han Shi really had thought of a lot of things.
Poverty really was the most horrifying thing in the world. How did he manage to endure until entering Li Shan Sword Sect? Endure to this point? Wasn’t it precisely for this battle?
That’s right, that manoeuvre was the same blade he had used to cut the cold rice gruel.
At the moment Gou Han Shi had raised his blade, Chen Chang Sheng’s expression changed.
Before even seeing the manoeuvre, he could perceive the move’s quality, no, more accurately, the move was an unavoidable human affair.
Gou Han Shi had already utilised two sublime and powerful sword manoeuvres which he had used two death seeking charges to counter, yet, facing this current move, he had the thought that it was difficult to surmount.
Because this move was something he couldn’t overcome, if he wanted to achieve mutual destruction, then firstly, their swords had to meet.
Chen Chang Sheng didn’t want the short sword in his hand to meet Gou Han Shi’s Li Shan sword, because once they clashed, it would cause a change, this inquiry on the way of the sword was something he couldn’t be as accurate as Gou Han Shi in.
At the start, it was Gou Han Shi who did not want their swords to meet, currently, the positions had reversed.
What should he do?
The observers on the second floor were currently shocked with the marvel of Gou Han Shi’s bitter sword. Closely following this, Chen Chang Sheng’s move stunned their very minds, with cries of exclamation continuously erupting.
Chen Chang Sheng stamped his foot to the side, his step breaking the water that had accumulated on the green slabs below, his bent elbow carried a spray of rainwater; it remained a straight thrust, with the short sword carrying a faint golden glimmer, piercing towards Gou Han Shi.
A faint blood scent appeared within the tower.
That scent came from the wounds on both, him and Gou Han Shi, and also came from the blood of previous examinees that had participated in the duelling phase, but most of the scent came from his sword art.
“Isn’t this the Orthodoxy’s Perfect Sword…?” muttered one of the Archbishops of the Holy Church as their expression suddenly turned severe.
Xu Shi Ji could no longer maintain his silence and said, in a stern and reprimanding manner: “Hasn’t that move already been banned?”
Star Seizer Academy’s principal said: “It should still remain within the library of Orthodox Academy.”
The Orthodoxy’s Perfect Sword that Chen Chang Sheng was currently using, had an even more well-known name, it is called the Sword of Slaughter and was the secret sword of one of the academy’s previous principals. It was said that many years ago, when that principal who had fell on the path of slaughter was forcefully suppressed by His Holiness, The Pope, the sword art had actually managed to heavily injure His Holiness.
If it could be said that Gou Han Shi’s sword manoeuvre consisted of being miserly and resolute, then this sword manoeuvre used by Chen Chang Sheng consisted of slaughter and insanity.
With two such swords crossing each other, who would gain the upper hand?
The remaining rain within the tower suddenly dispersed, the wet sand that remained upon the floor, leapt into the air.
Two sword gusts entwined incessantly, its force seeping out in all directions. The black eaves continuously resounded in the wind.
Gou Han Shi and Chen Chang Sheng had already separated, bleeding ever more blood, sustaining ever more injuries.
No one had clearly seen what previously happened, but those two swords probably didn’t meet.
Mo Yu’s gaze shifted down, falling upon the footprint in front of Gou Han Shi, confirming that he was actually the first to have retreated, she couldn’t stop herself from feeling rather shocked, with her fine brows lightly arching, complex overtones appeared within her eyes, but the edge of her lips lifted.
It was silent within the tower, with everyone being endlessly shocked.
Qiu Shan Jun and Xu You Rong didn’t come to participate in this year’s examination, and a lot of people inevitably opined the thought that the examination would lose much of its lustre, yet who could have guessed, that this battle in the examination would actually be to this degree.
From the start till now, Chen Chang Sheng and Gou Han Shi had already crossed swords close to half a hundred times, yet their blades had still never really clashed, however, they had sustained many injuries, on some occasions being only an instant away from death itself.
This kind of will and ability, this kind of cultivation on the sword, it really did make others speechless with admiration.
Just what kind of cultivation do those two practise? How could they grasp so many secret swords that are close to being lost? Gou Han Shi had even self-created such a flawless sword art.
Of course, for the observers, they could rely upon the advantage of their cultivation and level to ignore Gou Han Shi and Chen Chang Sheng’s manoeuvres, relying upon strength to crush them, but what if they were of the same level?
It had to be known that both Gou Han Shi and Chen Chang Sheng were yet to reach twenty years of age, for them to know such a large quantity of sword arts, knowing when to select which manoeuvre and making the near perfect choice, this kind of ability made others rather dumbfounded.
Chen Chang Sheng especially, had grasped such powerful and severe moves that were only concerned with mutual destruction, continuously performing them. What was more frightening was that everyone could clearly see from that youth’s choices and sword manifestations that he wanted to take first place, and that he would even disregard death in order to achieve it.
“If this continues, someone is going to die,” said Prince Chen Liu as he looked at everyone else present.
They all knew that what he said was the truth and they also felt rather worried. They could obviously stop this frenzied battle from continuing further, but first place for the examination had yet to be decided, how could Gou Han Shi and Chen Chang Sheng possibly agree?
If a victor had to be judged – Chen Chang Sheng had relied upon seeking victory through death, how could he be judged as to losing?
An extremely powerful manoeuvre.
Chen Chang Sheng thought of that shabby sword manoeuvre of Gou Han Shi’s, that went from the heaven to the earth, silently contemplating. If Gou Han Shi hadn’t retracted his move at the last moment, he really might have lost by now.
“Why did you retreat in the end?” he looked at Gou Han Shi and asked seriously.
Gou Han Shi gave it a thought and said: “That manoeuvre of mine is for cutting cold rice gruel.”
Chen Chang Sheng remained silent for a while, then asked: “And then?”
“The cold rice gruel of those years were made by my mother.”
Gou Han Shi continued: “She still lives; therefore, I must also live on.”
Chen Chang Sheng remained silent for a long time, then said: “I’m sorry.”
“How about you? What are you doing this for?” Gou Han Shi looked at him and asked: “First upon the First Banner in the Grand Examination, is it really that important for you? Even more important than life and death?”
Chen Chang Sheng replied with a question of his own: “What about you? How important is it to you?”
Gou Han Shi replied: “For all cultivators, this honour is important, not to mention our sect has already taken first place three times in a row. I can’t possibly allow myself as the second senior brother to end it.”
“So it is as such.”
After giving it a thought, Chen Chang Sheng said: “I’m sorry, but first place is far more important for me, therefore I cannot withdraw, I have no retreat. This is inherently unfair to you.”
Gou Han Shi said: “I don’t really understand your meaning, but for some reason I can sort of sense it.”
Chen Chang Sheng raised the short sword in his hand, pointing it in Gou Han Shi’s direction and said: “In my previous match, Zhuang Huan Yu said to me, the barefooted doesn’t fear those wearing shoes. Thinking back on it, he was right.”
Golden sand lightly flew in the air, the cry of cicadas outside became more urgent and clouds streaked across the sky restlessly. Seeing his stance and sensing his sword manifestation, Gou Han Shi could vaguely guess something and his expression changed.
Chen Chang Sheng looked at him and said, extremely seriously: “I really don’t have a path of retreat, neither do I have anything to lose, therefore, even if I am wearing shoes, I am still a child that fights barefooted.”
Gou Han Shi said: “For people like us, shoes are inherently a luxury.”
“That’s why I have to apologise to you,” said Chen Chang Sheng.
Outside of the tower, Tang Thirty-Six had given him a very clear battle plan: first, move others through emotion; then persuade others through reason; finally, defeat others through strength. The most important part was to attack their feelings, then comes the sword.
Chen Chang Sheng didn’t do this, it wasn’t till now that he had finally conversed with Gou Han Shi earnestly, because this represented respect. The reason for starting this conversation now, was because he could sense the next manoeuvre will decide the victor.
Gou Han Shi asked: “For the next manoeuvre, I’m preparing to use the Master’s Blade, what about you?”
Chen Chang Sheng replied: “Li Shan Sword Arts’ final move.”
Gou Han Shi came to know that he had guessed correctly.
He remained silent for a very long time, gazing at the blue heavens above, feeling a little hungry, wanting to eat a little rice gruel.
After a long time, he shook his head, returned his sword to its scabbard and turned, leaving the Tower of Purging Dust.
Within the tower, only Chen Chang Sheng remained. He looked at the empty arena, looked at the grey wall opposite and slightly tilted his head, seeming to be rather bewildered.
It was very quiet, without any sort of sound.
His gaze persisted for a long time before he finally regained his senses, feeling rather tired, wanting to rest for a while.
He retreated backwards a few steps, getting closer to the wall, slowly returned his short sword to its scabbard. He then sat down, wiping his forehead, but it was hard to determine what was on his sleeve, be it blood or sweat.