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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

273 The Hero Tower

 As the last pier in the west of Jiang Province to the west, Maoling was an important hub on the bank of the large river, ushering in traders and visitors from all over the world. Thus, the Dajiang Gang had set a branch here. The Wang family followed suit, stationing their External Affairs Elders and masters here as well. As weaker forces, the Turf Lords had to be submissive and comforted themselves that they were both rooted in the River East, so they were not outsiders.

With Maoling being a county government next to Zhong Province, Six Fan School in the area had a great influence with Silvery Badge, Green-ribbon Arresters, and Tigard Arresters stationed here.

The peace and prosperous Maoling, as the hub of water and land transportation, was known around the world to be a place to squander one's money away with the existence of its Skyfirst No.1 Casino. Daytime was as just boisterous as nightfall. Countless men came here, but they were reluctant to leave until they became penniless.

However, the most popular places here were Su Garden of the Wang family, Lake Crescent of the Dajiang Gang, and Hero Tower.

With his saber and sword strapped to his back, Meng Qi walked on the street dressed in his black clothes and a Hero Ribbon on his head. With his straight brows and bright eyes, he looked rather fetching, and attracted the attention of some of the ladies who winked and waved at him.

Meng Qi instantly made his way to Hero Tower once Qiu Fei, the Wind-chasing Stick, entered the Hua Province Guild. Now that he was dipping into the Maoling waters as Su Meng, the "Killing Blade", he must announce his presence!

He must carry himself in a manner befitting a master on the Ranking List of Young Masters!

The five-storeyed Hero Tower was painted with the reddish-black on the bottom, giving off a solemn, but exciting feeling. A crowd was gathered in front of its gate, causing others to wonder just how many Jianghu heroes were waiting there.

Five good-looking martial artists, all of whom had opened their Acupores, were stationed outside as guards. They seemed to be taking turns to be on duty. Only one of them was on guard while the rest were taking a rest.

The one on duty was a young man holding a long saber. He was in his 20s, and had a Four Acupores cultivation. Because he was backed by Hero Tower, his smile was particularly arrogant.

He yelled, "Whoever takes 10 strikes from me can enter the tower."

No one there was offended, for they knew this to be the tower's iron rule.

Behind the young man, there were two vertical banners flanking the gate. They read as such:

"If talents from southern and northern regions stop before the gate, they don't deserve to be elites."

"If talents from eastern and western regions don't enter the tower, they aren't real heroes."

The Jianghu heroes, confident in their strength, lined up before the gate. Meng Qi also entered the lineup as an onlooker.

A man in his 20s was the first to stand out holding a long sword. He cupped one hand in the other before his chest, "Please!"

The guard immediately pointed the long gold-spun knife at the challenger with fierce energy. His movement was simple but rather artful.

"Nice bladesmanship." Meng Qi praised him.

Several men behind him gave him a strange look, wondering why he would praise the guard. If the guard was not powerful and adept at bladesmanship, he would not have been sent here by the Tower Lord to select the heroes.

The challenger wielded his long sword before his chest to meet the attack, but the force of the blow threw him one step backward. His right hand trembled ever so slightly.

The guard smiled and took one step forward, launching another attack with the same force. He seemed to be relying on his power and speed to vanquish his opponent.

Instead of blocking the attack, the challenger moved his body at a slant and dodged it. He thrust out his sword to hit the guard in his armpit.

Suddenly, the long saber swept toward him and caused a wind so fierce that it hurt his face.

He had to resist this strike with full force. If he continued attacking the guard, he would be slashed into two at the waist.

Clang!

He dropped his sword, letting it fall to the ground.

With a pale face, he looked at his sword in a blank shock and wondered why he was still so weak after so many years of practice.

Meng Qi once again opened his mouth to praise the guard, saying, "Not bad. He used all his advantages to the fullest."

The men behind him looked at him again, thinking that they did not need his commentary. They assumed he was an ordinary Jianghu man from out of state.

Subsequently, the ensuing men also challenged the guard, but pitifully, none could withstand his 10 strikes. This put the guard in a great mood, for he was able to meet his need to practice his knife art and gain the pleasure of victory. This was also the reason he had agreed to be a guard. There were many masters in Jianghu, but the mediocre ones outnumbered them by 10 or even 20 times.

The guard's eyes brightened upon seeing a handsome, masculine young man in front of him. Like Su Meng, the "Killing Blade", he wore black clothes and a Hero Ribbon. He also carried a knife and sword on his back. The guard did not know how strong this young man was, but appreciated his good looks.

"Whoever takes 10 strikes from me can enter the tower," he straightforwardly repeated the rule.

Meng Qi said nothing and held his sheathed Heaven Inflicted Pain Knife, waiting for the guard's move with a smile.

The guard continued to brandish his sword with the same power, causing a fierce wind and melodious sound.

He continued to take the advantage of his strength over his foe.

Meng Qi simply swung out his sheathed knife.

Was he trying to match strength per strength? The guard was startled but instantly exerted more force on his hand. Since his opponent was so interested to try, he would definitely play along.

Puff!

The long saber stabbed the scabbard of the knife.

The guard felt that the knife was ridiculously heavy, even heavier than the 100-pound water-polished cane he had once encountered. It was like a mountain over his head, so heavy that it was difficult for him to block it.

Coupled that pressure with the force that Meng Qi imposed on his movement, the guard's hand soon numbed, and he dropped his long knife.

Clang! When the sound echoed, the guard was still in a daze. He was born with impressive strength, yet was actually defeated in a strength match.

Meng Qi swirled his knife and pulled it back. He smiled and said, "Thank you for your instructions. May I enter now?"

It was not until he spoke that the Jianghu men lining up recovered from their shock and began chattering.

"Here comes a master."

"He actually won the battle of strength. Is he inherently strong?"

"I wonder how many floors he'll be able to reach."

Some looked up and down at Meng Qi, while others stared at the staircases inside Hero Tower. Each staircase was guarded by a martial artist.

"Yes. Please, your notable guest," said the guard as he opened the gate for Meng Qi. He had met such masters and it was not the first time he had suffered an ugly defeat. He quickly adjusted his mind and invited Meng Qi inside.

Holding the sheathed knife, Meng Qi calmly walked inside the gate.

The first floor of the tower was spacious, with many empty square tables. It made for a lukewarm atmosphere. But, those who were eating and drinking here had bright eyes and rich Qi and blood. They were considerably powerful masters.

Meng Qi directly headed for the second floor, attracting the attention of the guests inside and Jianghu men outside. They all looked forward to a rat race, and made guesses how far up he would be able to go.

The guard on the second floor was a swordsman. Using his spirit and genuine Qi to examine the guard's power, Meng Qi learned that he was a Six Acupores martial artist with an undulating genuine Qi.

"Take 10 moves from me, and you may go upstairs," he said coldly, hugging his long sword to his chest.

Meng Qi once again thrust out his sheathed knife, drawing his opponent in. Between his steps forward, he naturally hit the guard on his head.

The airflow around suddenly surged, but was easily absorbed by the long knife. It gave the guard the impression that the long knife was enveloping the whole world, all-conquering. There was no place for him to retreat to. He could only charge forward and meet the attack head-on.

He propped his long sword up, attempting to unload the knife force.

Puff!

Hearing only a muffled sound, the guard felt that Meng Qi's knife energy was incredibly dense and completely attached to the body of the knife. There was no way for him to soften its force. After the force exploded, he got the illusion that his right arm was so numb and weak that it didn't feel like his own anymore.

With a clang, the long sword fell to the ground. Meng Qi nodded and thanked him for the battle. He then walked past the guard, stepping on the stairs leading to the third floor.

"He's so fast!"

"He's still using only one movement!"

"How fierce and domineering!"

A series of exclamations came from the crowd on the ground floor, sending off Meng Qi who disappeared at the stairs of the second floor. Everyone fixed their attention on the stairs of the third floor.

"How many floors can he reach?"

"Will he defeat the guard on the third floor with one movement again?"

"Impossible. Gao Donglou, the Water-flowing Spear, is on guard today. His Seven Acupores are all open, and he achieved the cycle of the Inner World. Besides, he has been learning the spear art from a reputed master for 10 bitter years. How can he be defeated by just one movement?"

Gao Donglou was a man who appeared confident and easygoing. With his long spear strapped to his back, he rather resembled Zhao Zilong of the Battle of Changban fame, a character from "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" that Meng Qi idolized. It was his style that Meng Qi had always been tirelessly pursuing.

"Please." Gao Donglou did not show anyone who could reach the third floor any hint of contempt and made the first move.

The spear traveled like a dragon, vibrating with electrical lights. Underneath its unimaginably beautiful appearance was a deadly trap awaiting its victim.

Meng Qi seemed completely unaware of the trap and continue to brandish his knife at Gang Donglou's head, taking the chance to absorb all the rising airflow and make everything smaller in comparison. The momentum of the knife was even more terrifying this time, raining down on his opponent like a divine punishment.

Nice! Gang Donglou was excited as Meng Qi's attack landed the exact place where he had buried his trap. He had fallen for it!

All the electrical lights faded. The shadow of the long spear fell into place, and the spear seemed to move several inches from its original place out of nowhere. The spear dodged the knife and stabbed Meng Qi.

Being an inch longer than Meng Qi's knife, his long spear was more powerful. In his estimation, his spear would pierce Meng Qi before the knife can hurt him.

But right at this moment, Meng Qi followed the momentum of the knife and got closer to Gang Donglou using his Stealth skill. He leaned sideways, dodging the spear.

His timing was perfect. If he had made a move earlier, Gao Donglou would be able to push him away with the spear before his chest. If he had made a move any later, he wouldn't have been able to dodge it.

Gao Donglou stepped back to prevent the knife from hitting his head. However, just as he was about to launch another round of attack, Meng Qi retrieved his knife and took the opportunity to step onto the staircase leading up to the fourth floor. In his eyes, Meng Qi seemed to be sending him his greetings through the battle.

This strength and charm... Gao Donglou exhaled and held his spear firmly vertical.

"Just one movement!"

"C-Could he be one of the masters on the Ranking List of Young Masters?"

"He has a saber and sword on the back. Could he be Su Meng, the Killing Blade?"

"Possibly!"

"It's one thing to know him by reputation, but another to finally see him in person. I thought 'Killing Blade' is a reckless macho man. I didn't think he'd have the grace of a true master!"

Meng Qi listened to their discussions attentively, feeling as his face would be wet with tears. It wasn't easy to hear such good remarks.

"He'll definitely have no problem passing through the fourth floor, but the guard on the fifth floor is none other than Xiao Zhenhai, the Aurora Electric Sword. Xiao Zhenhai was once ranked 26th on the list but dropped off after his age exceeded the limit. It's likely he has reached the Half-step Exterior Scenery by now."

"A few days ago, Five Emperors' Knife vanquished Aurora Electric Sword in just 10 movements and went up the sixth floor. Ranked 20th, he's definitely far more powerful than the rest!"

Qing Yu, Five Emperors' Knife, was the heir disciple of the Xuan Tian Sect. Besides, he had induced the Seven Acupores and also practiced the "Heavenly Emperor's Scripts". His experience in roaming the Jianghu was more or less the same as Meng Qi, yet he was already ranked 16th. He was a likely candidate to make up the top 10 on the list in the future.