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237 The Ranking List Gets an Update

 The clanging sound of the long knife hacking the sword still resonated in their heads. It was as if they could still see traces of the ferocious shadows dancing before their eyes. For a long time, the audience on the grandstands couldn't snap out of their reverie. They lost themselves in the battle full of primitive power, with its many brilliant attacks and defenses making their blood boil with excitement.

They only snapped awake when they heard Meng Qi and Wang Zai shout simultaneously, "Enjoyable!"

A startled Jin Jinxian heaved an emotional sigh. "I thought Young Master Su must've shown his best Exterior bladesmanship and used his full strength to stop my 28 continuous moves and top-level Crimson Moon Sword. It's only today that I realized the extent of his power. Had he used all his strength back then, I don't think I would be able to take even three of his moves."

In his astonishment, he had forgotten to even address himself as 'an old fellow'.

The three moves he mentioned were the attacks of the Mortal Dust Fall, Yama's Invitation, and Peace Quietude Split in a row. Wang Zai was perhaps the only one out of the Half-step Exterior warriors Yedu was below Half-step Exterior Scenery level, so perhaps Wang Zai was the only one who could withstand. As for the others, it could be called a success as long as they could hold on to the third move.

Luo Youfeng's face was ghastly pale. With a glazed stare, he could speak nothing as he watched Meng Qi and Wang Zai in the arena. He thought he was only defeated in a single move that day because he underestimated the Thunder Blade Furious Monk. Had he exercised more caution, he could even withstand three moves from the monk even if the monk used his Exterior bladesmanship. But Meng Qi's performance today poured cold water all over him and taught him a cruel lesson.

If the Thunder Blade Furious Monk wanted to, he could defeat him with a single move anytime!

The Martial Club Principal who was familiar with the Noble Spirit laughed at himself. "I've really underestimated Wang Zai. I thought he made the list because of his mastery of the Noble Spirit and Peerless Godly Kungfu but looks like he truly deserves to be there. Whether it's his grasp of the Nine Saint Swordplays or his skills in the movements, he's far beyond me. I've really lived for fifty years in vain!"

"You're right. I didn't expect him to learn the unique skill apart from the Noble Spirit, the Unmovable Strike as well. He even fused it with Invincible Benevolence, making for an unbreakable defense." Jin Jinxian sighed again. "I'm afraid he didn't even use half of his strength when he fought me."

Wang Zai came to fame thanks to his Unstoppable Strike and Invincible Benevolence, an Exterior move. Jin Jinxian wasn't surprised by this.

The Noble Spirit was one of the Peerless Godly Kungfu and was as famous as the Sword Art of Immortal-given Longevity of the Huanhua Swords Sect, as well as the Zhenwu's Seven Strokes Scripture and the Tai Chi Divine Skill of the Zhen Wu Sect. Building on this fame, the forefathers of the Wang family established the Noble Body to deal with the chaotic time after the governing of the Demonic Buddha. Its three unique skills were different from the rest and could be practiced after one enlightened his Apertures without needing to comprehend the Gist of Trueness. It looked ordinary but was comparatively hard to cultivate. If one didn't have a pure Noble Spirit or was distracted, it was impossible for him to learn it.

As a practitioner continued to comprehend and interpret the Confucius Sect's doctrine, he would naturally purify and strengthen his Noble Spirit. This way, he would be able to cultivate the three unique skills to reach the Exterior and Dharmakaya level, thus revealing the true mystery of the skills.

In enlightenment period, the Unstoppable Strike skill was a Dharma Access similar to the Sacrifice Formula, bridging the Noble Spirit between the Heaven and Earth and strengthen the warrior in a short time. It would grow stronger as one meet strong rivals, mimicking their strength as long as they were in the same realm. It was a special defensive skill and the cumulation of Dharma and Logos. It could be paired with any other defensive moves. On the other hand, the Unchangeable Strike was a heart sutra that could strengthen one's Vital Spirit, clear the mind, and clear desires. That was why Wang Zai managed to survive the Ananda Oath-breaking Bladesmanship.

But the human heart was a mystery. Burdened with too many unfilled desires resulted in Wang Zai merely grasping the surface of the Unchangeable Strike. In the past 300 years, only one person in the Wang family managed to learn it in its entirety. He was the erudite man who died 120 years ago. Whether it was the Mortal Dust Fall or the Peace Quietude Split, neither could disturb him.

"So the guy defeated Wang Zai. His strength..." Another Martial Club Principal appeared to be still immersed in the fight earlier. "There's always someone better than you in this world. Living in Zhou County, we only have access to news from other places through the Ranking List of Young Masters, Heaven and Earth. It's inevitable that we have such a limited outlook."

One could encounter many dangers on his travels. Countless heirs from famous aristocratic families had died when they ventured outside. Thus, many chose to travel in adjoining places and would at most roam around Yedu, the Zhou County, or the Huan Province.

"Young Master Su ought to be strong enough to rank in top 20 of the list. He washed away all doubts with this battle," Jin Jinxian said. He had a good impression of the polite Meng Qi.

With an unsettled mind, Luo Youfeng murmured to himself, "At least Wang Zai was 21 when he made the list, but the Thunder Blade Furious Monk is only..."

Everyone was astonished and remembered that the Thunder Blade Furious Monk appeared to be rather young.

There were irregular intervals between each generation of the Shaolin Temple. Considering the environment at the time and the practicing situation of the generation, one thing was for sure: the Zhen generation began at most eight or nine years ago. Most disciples they took in were children. Since Zhen Ding was said to be from that generation, he should be 19 at most or perhaps only 16 or 17!

How could this news not shock and astonish them?

The Demoness of Grand Luo became famous at the same age!

"I've lived my bloody years in vain..." The same principal who had mocked himself earlier sighed.

On the grandstand that the Wang family occupied, Wang Ce looked shocked and shameful, but not that gloomy. Wang Nayan laughed and said, "Little Zai did well but Little Su was even better. If there aren't any difficult obstacles ahead of them, their path of their Exterior should be smooth."

"I thought I've already deduced Young Master Su's strength but he has opened my eyes again." Kong Yu was burning with the desire to recruit Meng Qi.

Qi Zhengyan was in a daze. Meng Qi was even more powerful than when he fought him back then.

"I'm much more inferior to Junior Brother Meng or Wang Zai. Even if I'm on the list, I can only hope to rank below 40..." He exhaled lightly.

By now, most of the audience had calmed down. They exclaimed loudly from the bottom of their hearts. The battle they had just witnessed could be regarded as one of the best matches they had ever seen. It was far beyond their expectations.

After shouting out his exhilaration, Meng Qi returned his sword to its sheath and cupped his fist at his opponent. He smiled and said, "Thank you for the match."

He had just narrowly won their match earlier. If the match had continued, he would have lost.

Wang Zai put away his sword as well and smiled calmly, having lost no confidence. "It's a satisfying loss!"

His condition was pretty good, only his body was still trembling. Meng Qi knew Wang Zai still had tricks up his sleeves, perhaps once again using the Unstoppable Strike, but chose to give up because it would cause great injury to himself.

Of course, Meng Qi himself also had his trump card. There was still his thunderbolt mark, Purple Decease Sword, and Sacrifice Formula that he hadn't used in their battle.

Just as he was about to express his happiness at meeting a great rival, he heard the audience cheering for the Reckless Monk. His smile froze on the face.

Why did he fight so hard earlier? The match was so enjoyable that he forgot himself. Now his image had gone to hell. Meng Qi really wanted to run his head into the wall. With his head throbbing, he barely made out a smile. It was an uglier sight than if he had cried.

Wang Zai noticed the change in Meng Qi's voice and asked with concern, "What's wrong, Brother Su?"

"I'm fine. It's just a headache caused by my mental exhaustion." Meng Qi stared at the sky speechlessly.

Exhausted, both of them returned to the grandstand and left in advance after bidding Wang Nayan, Kong Yu, and the rest farewell.

...

A month later, the latest Ranking List of Young Masters was released. It was put up at the door of the state and county government offices of the Six Fan School.

It became the focus of attention for many Jianghu folks and there was a hot discussion of how even someone like Meng Qi had barely made the list.

"The Fairy of the Extinction Sword fought and killed a Half-step Exterior Scenery warrior!" Meng Qi was shocked after seeing the list. Why did Jiang Zhiwei try so hard? Even if she wanted to test the enemy with her sword and enlighten her Apertures completely, she didn't have to fight a Half-step Exterior Scenery warrior!

He looked at the list, finding Jiang Zhiwei's name after the Ledgerkeeper of Lives.

Name: Jiang Zhiwei.

Martial arts: ...all sword art of enlighten the Apertures noted by the Swordplay Sutra of Supremacy; initially mastering the Anatta Sword, a Dharmakaya move; seemingly having mastered Hitting the Sea, an Exterior move; seemingly having created a skill herself and understanding all of its essence.

Historical record: ...January 15, in Longnan. She met the Heartless Fighter, an old Guardian from the Incense-smelling Denomination. At the time the earth cracked and chaotic rocks rolled, demonstrating the power of a Half-step Exterior Scenery warrior. However, she resorted to the Anatta Sword that Sword God Su became famous for. The sword shined in the sky and distorted the world. She wounded the Heartless Fighter, causing him to flee. They had a bloody battle that caused her a serious injury. She appeared to have used Hitting the Sea, an Exterior move, to kill her opponent. Moreover, she seemed to have opened the Eight Apertures in the battle as well. Injured, she fled afterward and her whereabouts remain unknown.

Evaluation: She could be the Sword God.

Rank: 4th.

Nickname: Fairy of the Extinction Sword, Pretty Yama.

Identity: Heir to the Sword Washing Pavilion; the sole disciple of Su Wuming, the Outer-sky God Sword.

Her battle was so sensational that the Six Fan School wrote a long description of it and even gave their evaluation of it.

Everyone who read this paragraph was all silent.

Meng Qi heaved a sigh of relief. While he admired his friend's achievement, he also worried about her. Knowing she had the Recover Pill, he was able to put aside his fear for her safety. To flee with serious injuries meant she was safe. Since she had achieved a realm breakthrough, she ought to be quietly retreating and digesting the proceeds. She should be consolidating her realm as she waited for the death mission.

But why was she only ranked 4th? Meng Qi was somewhat indignant. He thought of Duo Ercha, who Gu Xiaosang killed. He was seriously wounded, but Gu Xiaosang wasn't better off. She had to stay in her Little Zi mode most of the time and never joined any serious matches since then on.

Considering the Heartless Fighter was suffering from serious injuries and never managed to become an Exterior warrior, it was no wonder that Six Fan School made its ranking this way.

He continued to trace down the list and saw his name shortly after.

Name: Su Meng; former Dharma name: Zhen Ding.

Kungfu: Six or Seven Apertures; Golden Bell Shield at level six; amazing strength; strong spirit; uses a sword in the left hand and a knife in the right; knows exquisite swordsmanship; good at fighting; mastered the essence of first and the second move of the Ananda Killing Blade, which can be continuously used without urging the blood essence; enlighten the Apertures bladesmanship can be gentle and swift or fast and ferocious; could be considered a master. Moreover, he knows how to summon the sky thunder.

History: fought the White-headed Vulture, An Guoxie; beheaded the Gray Jade Hand, Yuan Mengzhi by summoning the sky thunder; conquered Evil Ridge; fended off the Uprising Yama, You Huanduo, face-to-face; narrowly won the Right-guarding Sword, Wang Zai at the practicing field of Yedu with half a move. Brave and has amazing bladesmanship.

Rank: 19th.

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

Identity: Abandoned disciple of Shaolin Temple.

Where was the promised nickname Blade Master... Meng Qi's vision darkened with anger. What the hell was Killing Blade?

Everyone around him started making their comments and bragging about how they witnessed Meng Qi's match. They admired him so much that they basically wanted to throw themselves at him, wanting to be his disciple.

Meng Qi left the crowd silently.

...

The Military Selection began in the Huan Province in early April, causing the elites from all counties to flock over. The entire province became lively and bustling with people.

During this time, Meng Qi remained his routine of challenging masters every few days. He had basically defeated nearly all the famed Enlightened Masters in Yedu without any failure.

His kungfu had been unstable in the past because it was enhanced too quickly, but it finally stabilized under this continuous tempering. He could be said to have preliminarily succeeded in his Outline of Heavenly Knife. He was also close to finally succeeding in fusing his Knife Intent with the movement of the Purple Thunder Bladesmanship.

One fine day, he was dressed in black clothes with his knife and sword strapped to his back. He walked toward the gate of the Six Fan School of the Huan Province with Kong Yu, a Green-ribbon Arrester.

"The contest is divided into 12 groups with 50 people each. Each group will take turns to fight. The top five will be promoted and the rest will be eliminated. The top 30 will be allowed to enter the city of God. When only 30 people remain in the contest, they will continue to fight until we have our top three," Kong Yu said, giving Meng Qi a simple introduction to the rules. To a great extent, the rules prevented masters from being accidentally eliminated.

Meng Qi nodded, unconcerned about the rules.

Kong Yu laughed. "I think I've said too much. Wang Zai isn't around now. With your ability, you're definitely the champion. Why would you need to worry about this?"

The two of them had become closer in the past few months and became much more casual with each other. Kong Yu found Meng Qi to be found easygoing and interesting beyond his graceful appearance.

"Old Kong, which group am I in?" Meng Qi asked casually.

"Group D. There are several competitors who have reached Nine Apertures; they can be considered your strong opponents. There's Gao Yang, the Iron Sword of the Hui County, and Guo Quan, the Earth-cracking Palm..." As the Green-ribbon Arrester of the Six Fan School, Kong Yu naturally knew a lot of details about the contest.

Meng Qi listened quietly. He underestimated none of his competitors.

Those in Group D were waiting inside the Yanwu Hall. Guo Quan was looking around calmly before his eyes landed on the sword-wielding Gao Yang and the other strong opponents.

Suddenly, something stirred in him and he turned toward the door. He saw a young man in black attire walking in, with a knife and a sword on his back. He appeared to be an extraordinary warrior with an imposing aura yet understated at the same time as if he was an ordinary person.

The words 'Killing Blade' appeared in Guo Quan's mind. He recalled the list and all the detailed information on his fellow competitors that he obtained through various channels.

The other Military Selectees had also recognized the identity of the newcomer. Some were surprised. Some looked like they were afraid. There were also those who looked at him with respect. The rest looked excited to see him.

Guo Quan swallowed and looked at the approaching Meng Qi. Respectfully, he cupped his fist and greeted him.

"Young Master Su, you ought to be the champion of this military contest."

No one around him dared to object. That was his fame!

Many of them even witnessed the battle between Meng Qi and Wang Zai. They were impressed and greatly admired his strength.

They all mimicked Guo Quan and greeted him.

"Young Master Su, you ought to be the champion of this military contest!"