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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

235 A Fight Between Listed Masters

 The practicing field of the Six Fan School in Zhou County was built on a foundation of solid mud and surrounded by four grandstands for viewing.

The school, Wang family, Huanhua Sword Sect, and Huang family took the grandstand to the north. The remaining three were occupied by excited Jianghu people.

Though there were many who had the ability to enter the Ranking List of Young Master, few could make it. Perhaps it was due to a lack of opportunity or perhaps they preferred to keep a low-profile. There were 23 states altogether in North Zhou Dynasty and Great Jin Dynasty and that didn't include the grasslands and the West Regions. Yet there were only 50 masters who made the list. Some states didn't even have a candidate good enough to be considered for the list.

As the number one state in the southwest region, Huan Province was home to the Huanhua Swords Sect and Wang family from Zhou County. Thus, it also housed three listed masters. Liu Su, also known as Master Lotus, came into fame earlier than Wang Zai, who himself preceded Meng Qi. When Wang Zai was still making it out of obscurity, Liu Su traveled the world and made his way into the top 10 of the list. He was eventually knocked out his position by Jiang Zhi Wei. By the time he returned to Huan Province, Wang Zai had already made the list and left for his travels. So the two never met.

After Meng Qi forced four Nine Apertures masters equipped with Precious Weapons to retreat and squeezed his name onto the list, everyone was looking forward to his fierce battle with Wang Zai. Yet unexpectedly, he left for Xiliang to seek revenge and went off the grid. So in the end, he still missed Wang Zai.

This made everyone in the martial arts community lament. Could it be that they could only witness a battle between listed masters in Changle and Juyuan Counties, the two most prosperous places in the world with the highest number of young masters?

Out of the 30 battles between listed masters, only seven took place away from Changle and Juyuan Counties. The nearest location to Huan Province was the battle of Demoness of Grand Luo and Seven Heavenly Fairies over at the Three Mountains and Four Waters. The other one was in front of Wang Zai at the Flowers Tower in Yedu, where Demoness of Grand Luo killed the Successor of Mystic Fairy. No one had the chance to witness either.

Now the Thunder Blade Furious Monk was officially challenging the Right-guarding Sword to a battle. How could they stay calm?

A principal from another club asked Jin Jinxian of the Sun-scorching Martial Club, "You've been challenged by the Thunder Blade Furious Monk and also sparred with Master Wang. Who do you think is more powerful?"

Jin Jinxian stroke his mustache and replied with a low voice, "I'm of shallow learning, so it's hard for me to tell. I think they're both on par with each other."

Principal Luo Youfeng of the Army-defeating Martial Club chimed in indignantly, "That's not true. Master Wang is undoubtedly more powerful after mastering the Unstoppable Strike of the Noble Spirit. He'll be able to rival even those from the top 10 of the list, never mind a mere Thunder Blade Furious Monk." He had been unhappy with Meng Qi ever since he was defeated by him with one strike.

Another principal shook his head. "Unstoppable Strike will make him as powerful as his rival by strengthening his genuine Qi, power, and speed. It does nothing for his realm and skills. As a Six or Seven Aperyures master, Su Meng may be worse off in those aspects but he's a master of bladesmanship and essence. In that case, Unstoppable Strike is useless against him."

The Noble Spirit of the Wang family was famed throughout the world, so the Jianghu men in Yedu were more or less familiar with it. They somewhat understood the character of Unstoppable Strike and knew it was futile against the realm and skills while the user was in the period of enlightening his Apertures.

They knew this because of the incident where the previous head of the Wang family, also Wang Che and Wang Kai's grandfather, killed a master of Half-step Exterior Scenery using the Unstoppable Strike. At that time, his realm wasn't promoted. Instead, he depended on the Noble Spirit to kill his opponent for the spirit itself contained elements of the Half-step Exterior Scenery. It connected with the Noble Spirit of the earth, making a person righteous and fair.

When Meng Qi saw Wang Kai fought in the past, he also noticed this.

"Like you said, Master Wang's realm is higher so it doesn't matter even if his Unstoppable Strike is useless. The monk has good bladesmanship, but is Master Wang any weaker with his Nine Saint Swordsmanship? He'd comprehended parts of the sword art essence a year ago. In terms of the Exterior tricks, the monk had the Gist of Trueness of the Ananda Oath-breaking Bladesmanship. But didn't Master Wang also acquired the Gist of Trueness of his Nine Saint Swordsmanship? It's hard to tell with this alone," Luo Youfeng refuted loudly.

The principal snorted. "Did I say Master Wang will lose? I'm just having he won't have it easy fighting against Su Meng."

Everyone on the grandstands was discussing the upcoming fight. Most supported Wang Zai due to his reputation as a hero in Yedu and his higher ranking on the list.

"It's hard to say. Young Master Su never demonstrated his Ananda Oath-breaking Bladesmanship and Golden Bell Shield. When he showed the entirety of his kungfu in a battle, that was last summer. No one knows how powerful he is now." Kong Yu, the Green-ribbon Arrester, smiled at Du Shaobai, the External Affairs Deacon of the Huanhua Swords Sect. "I think it'll end in a draw. After all, Master Wang has mastered the Unstoppable Strike. Though Master Su is stronger now, he's most likely only on par with Master Wang."

"Your words are reasonable." Du Shaobai softly nodded. Next to him, an excited Qi Zhengyan was watching Meng Qi who stood on the arena with his blade and sword strapped to his back. His eyes were closed.

Qi Zhengyan had been sparring with Meng Qi lately and his grasp on his Book of the Chaos had increased as well. He also understood the gap between him and Meng Qi. He kept getting the feeling that it was he, not Meng Qi, who was fighting in this battle. This way, he could estimate his own strength.

Amid the commotion, Wang family showed up with its leader. He was a middle-aged man in his 40s, wearing an antique crown and robe. He had handsome looks with a pair of small eyes.

Kong Yu arched his eyebrows and went forward to greet him. "Have you been well, Count Yeyang?"

The leader's given name was Wang Nayan. He was the Minister of War in Huan Province. Besides being the Wang family representative in the civil service, he was also a Top Class Master Pro. Wang Ce and Wang Zai were his immediate family and they addressed him as Fifth Uncle. The title Count Yeyang was a name succeeded by the leader of Wang family generation after generation.

There were many Exteriors in the Wang family, but most were dispatched out of the Huan Province to protect precious minerals, herbal mountains, as well as the major cities. They would take turns guarding the posts and more than 15 of them would be away for the whole year. Some, like Wang Zai's father, was also in Luo Yang to hold certain positions. He was the youngest grandmaster in the family and was also the Minister of Revenue who controlled the finances of the Great Jin Dynasty. All these factors meant only a dozen of Exteriors was left in the province.

It was for this reason that they didn't send any strong masters to control the officers in the Huan Province and Zhou County. With Wang Nayan and his rarely-seen strength, did they still have to fear losing control of those two places?

With money and power helping him climb into the position of Minister of War, Wang Nayan quickly became the representative of his family in the Huan Province.

No one expected him to come in person and his arrival startled Kong Yu, Du Shaobai, and the others. If they wanted to save Wang Zai and prevent their most talented disciple in this generation to die in battle due to carelessness, they could just send an Exterior elder or a foreign official of Half-step Exterior Scenery. There was no need for Wang Nayan at all.

But they immediately understood this was the family's way of trying to curry favor with an illegitimate child.

Wang Zai's father was a concubine's son. Even if he made it to the top 10 of the list and was the youngest grandmaster of their family, his bloodline meant he couldn't inherit his family. Like his father, Wang Zai was also a concubine's son with a bright future ahead of him. The legitimate heirs must draw the talented illegitimate children to their side and give them proper respect. Take Wang Zai's father for example. Though he wasn't the head of the family, he was the family's representative in the imperial court.

Wang Nayan was showing his respect and sincerity to Wang Zai and his father by coming here personally.

After all, this was a world where kungfu triumphed everything. If one had the ability, he could trade a well-matched position and respect.

"We just met yesterday and you're asking me again. How long-winded," Wang Nayan said with a charming smile. He didn't disregard Kong Yu just for being a mere Green-ribbon Arrester.

Behind him were Wang Ce, Wang Zai, and several disciples of the Wang family.

Wang Ce didn't look any different compared to several days earlier, but he was dead silent. The old servant behind him was still the same. Wang Zai looked determined with his Right-guarding Sword strapped to his waist. He was as calm as still water. There were no signs of arrogance, fear, excitement, or happiness as if he harbored neither thoughts of winning or losing.

Du Shaobai smiled. "Minister of War, you rested in the Golden Jade Pavilion yesterday. How can we not worry about your health?"

They both chatted courteously for a moment. Then Wang Nayan turned to Wang Zai with a smile. "Go ahead. Don't let Little Su wait."

Wang Zai nodded and directly flew toward the arena, landing 10 meters away from Meng Qi without any fanfare.

The spectators all stopped talking when they saw him enter the arena and waited for the fight to begin.

Wang Zai bowed. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Younger Brother Su."

Since Meng Qi called him elder brother, he would naturally address him as a younger brother.

Meng Qi opened his half-lidded eyes. "I have no regrets waiting for a good opponent no matter how long it takes."

Wang Zai smiled and asked, "Why are you using a wooden sword?"

Instead of his Meridian Sword, Meng Qi was carrying a similar-length wooden sword on his back.

"I can control my blade, but I can't suppress my sword. If I use my sword, I may accidentally injure someone." Meng Qi's expression remained placid.

As he spoke, he gradually reached for the handle of his blade. It was just a simple action but alarming in the eyes of Wang Nayan and Kong Yu.

His move was precise though slow. Like replicas, the later moves followed after the former ones without any difference in the posture of his hand as well the distance from his hand to the blade. Yet somehow those moves appeared like residual shadows.

Just as his hand reached the handle of his sword, his momentum skyrocketed. Wang Zai only felt that the person before him was like a long knife, sharp but gentle.

Under Meng Qi's influence, he also reached for his sword with his hand. It was also a simple action but it gave others an impression of uprightness.

It gave the spectators the impression that this was how he should draw his sword, and it was the right way to do so.

Clang!

They unsheathed their swords at the same time.

Meng Qi thrust his long knife and it danced in a beautiful arc toward Wang Zai. Knife Qi surrounded the knife without any leakage, giving out a mild but disturbing sound.

Wang Zai's sword flung at Meng Qi at a slant without any changes. With the help of the Immortal Pressing Art, Meng Qi knew that this attack had a well-distributed energy, making him difficult to break it. Besides, its movement and flaws changed with the momentum, leaving him no time to figure it out.

The Impartial Strike of the Nine Saint Swordplays!

Clang!

Without any fanfare, the Whisper Sword crashed into the Right-guarding Sword.

Challenger: Su Meng.

Nickname: Thunder Blade, Thunder Blade Furious Monk, Reckless Monk.

Strength: 33rd on the Ranking List of Young Masters.

Opponent: Wang Zai.

Nickname: Right-guarding Sword.

Strength: 23rd on the Ranking List of Young Masters.

Predictive result: Unknown.