Several people entered the assembly hall with hawk-like gazes and wolf-like steps. They looked impressive, carrying a stern loftiness when they entered the room.
“Kuang Yi1 greets the Villa Master.” The leader, a wild-looking man with twisting sideburns, cupped his fist and smiled.
“Disciple Ding Haiyan2 greets the Villa Master.” Beside him, a youth with thick limbs, high cheekbones and bronze skin also respectfully gave salutations.
“You’ve arrived. Enter and sit.” The Sword Casting Villa Master faintly smiled and hinted.
Ding Haiyan’s gaze arrogantly swept over everyone. His cultivation was already Three Flowers Gathered Overhead, which was astonishing. He did not blink when he faced the casting masters present, but when he saw Chen Mo, he stared.
“Kuang Yi, this disciple of your is already Three Flowers Gathered Overhead. Amazing.”
“He is only twenty-five this year.”
“To have such a cultivation at this age, and to be able to reach the stage of perfection with casting arts, Kuang Yi, you truly have found a good successor.”
Everyone exchanged words of praise, some of their compliments containing a bit of envy.
“Of course, if it was not for my dear disciple holding more interest towards casting and delaying his cultivation, he absolutely could have placed top ten in the Great Chong Dynasty’s Divine Warrior Examination.” Kuang Yi was especially proud of this disciple of his.
“This Villa Master heard that the Northern Darkness Sword Sect’s sect master, Northern Darkness Blue Wave3 also is especially fond of him. The future of the Sword Casting Villa is bright.” The Sword Casting Villa Master stroked his beard.
Kuang Yi saw the gloomy and silent Jin Wuliang. He showed a bit of smugness: “Brother Wuliang, Your Servant will not show any mercy in this Four Sects Wiping Sword. Do not blame This Kuang.”
“Just who will be victorious, that is still hard to say.” Jin Wuliang was unfazed.
Kuang Yi laughed, merely treating this as brave words for the occasion. His beloved apprentice had the support of the Sword Casting Villa and the Northern Darkness Sword Sect and thus could be called the number one casting master of this generation of Great Chong Dynasty’s youths. There was fundamentally no one who was able to best him. “I have never seen your apprentice before. He isn’t some greenhorn, is he? Does he wear a mask because he’s afraid of losing face? Ha, ha.”
“Brother Kuang Yi’s words are mistaken. This time, Branch master Wuliang has placed high hopes on him.” Branch Master Luo chimed in.
“Really? That’s fine as long as he doesn’t cost the Sword Casting Villa any face in front of our Jianghu compatriots.”
“Great minds think alike.” Branch Master Luo echoed.
Jin Wuliang’s expression became furious.
“Enough, stop talking about this for now. Branch Master Wuliang has his own plans. Presumably you will not shame the Sword Casting Villa, correct?” The Sword Casting Villa Master asked kindly.
“Only naturally. This Jin would never allow anyone to disgrace the reputation of casting masters.”
“Very well, then. Now, we had better discuss the matter of this Four Sects Wiping Sword.” The Sword Casting Villa Master grinned in satisfaction. He was also afraid that Jin Wuliang would break all the pots; knowing he was unable to keep his Western Branch, he would deliberately bring disgrace in the Four Sects Wiping Sword to ruin the Villa’s reputation.
What came next was a period of perfunctory exchanges regarding casting, more or less accounting for items to note in the Four Sects Wiping Sword. The apprentices did not make a sound as they sat nearby. After the instructions, the Sword Casting Villa Master let the others speak.
Chen Mo recalled the matter of the secret deal between Emperor Tang and the Sword Casting Villa. This was the perfect chance to gather intelligence. Therefore, he surreptitiously brought up the topic of the Divine Warrior Examination. Once this topic was mentioned, the heated discussion of the other disciples was immediately stirred.
This Divine Warrior Examination was the Great Chong Dynasty’s grand occasion, the twists and turns of which would make anyone slam the table and shout. Whether it was the bet between the crown prince and Chen Mo or Jiang Yanyu’s defeat, it was the subject of endless talk. Even those under the imperial court caused a dramatic stir.
“Heh, heh. That Chang’an Mansion’s Fourth Highness was actually able to defeat Jiang Yanyu, who returned from the Inner Star Fields, was truly something I never imagined.”
“I heard he used to be a cripple before, even. Looks like this rumor was false.”
“He received a perfect score in the Divine Warrior Examination, and he even gained the nickname White Clothed Tanhua. Heh, heh, he truly is incredible.”
“They say that Princess Yanyu’s Misty Rain Sword Technique is a rare adversary to face. However, it is a pity that it did not use a weapon that the Sword Casting Villa had forged. Perhaps she could have prevailed over Chang’an’s Highness.” Chen Mo suddenly said.
The others looked at him and agreed with one another. This pertained to the Sword Casting Villa’s face, so they naturally would not deny him.
“Princess Yanyu returned from an Inner Star Field sect, after all. Perhaps she will not favor a weapon from the Outer Star Field.” Jin Wuliang said.
Chen Mo said: “What Master says is reasonable. Chang’an Mansion’s Highness holds the limelight right now. Since Princess Yanyu did not favor us, if we are able to help forge an excellent weapon for Chang’an Mansion’s Highness, this will hold very significant benefits for our Sword Casting Villa. Chang’an Mansion’s reputation right now already surpasses the imperial family.” From any of the Casting Villa’s disciples’ perspectives, his words were somewhat too biased towards Chang’an Mansion, but this was not odd. As a young casting master, it was very natural to be very attentive to young warriors. To have such thinking was inevitable.4
All of the casting masters present had the same idea.
Chen Mo secretly analyzed the Sword Casting Villa Master’s expression, hoping he would be able to spot a clue.
A bit of contempt flashed in the Sword Casting Villa Master’s eyes when Chang’an Mansion was mentioned, but very quickly, it was hidden as if nothing had happened. “We must not discuss matters of the imperial court. Although Chang’an Mansion surpasses the imperial family, Emperor Tang has the Star General Seven Stars standing watch. No matter how great Chang’an Mansion’s limelight is, they will submit in the end. Can it be that White Clothed Tanhua is even able to defeat Seven Stars?”
The Sword Casting Villa Master waved his hand: “Enough. From now on, anything related to Chang’an Mansion must first be submitted through the Villa for approval. Do you understand?”
“Before the Four Great Sword Sects come visit, we have business to negotiate. Juniors and apprentices, you are excused for the time being. Properly prepare for the beginning of the Four Sects Wiping Sword.” The Villa Master commanded.
Chen Mo and the others rose and respectfully withdrew. After he left the assembly hall, CHen Mo’s brow tightly creased.
Sure enough, it appeared that Emperor Tang was colluding with the Sword Casting Villa.
“Senior Brother Haiyan, you surely can win this Four Sects Wiping Sword.”
“To be able to help Fairy Northern Darkness forge a divine weapon is truly the envy of the people of the world. That is much more impressive than that whatever White Clothed Tanhua.”
“When the time comes, you must remember to guide us Brothers.”
“You flatter me, you flatter me, I also like those who submit to current circumstances.”
A heap of words oozing with the intent to curry favor echoed to the side. Chen Mo saw that the Northern Branch’s Ding Haiyan was in the middle of being escorted by a crowd of casting masters. These young casting masters had faces full of adoration. It was not strange nor surprising, for the number one in the Four Sects Wiping Sword would presumably be a future Sword Casting Villa Master.
“Hmph, with an attitude like his, how can Fairy Northern Darkness look upon his weapon.” A casting master coldly said.
Chen Mo glanced at him. In the assembly hall, he had seen this Southern Branch representative. The man was taciturn, clear contours etched upon his face. From his eyes, one could feel the firm conviction for casting masters that he held in his heart. He was very disdained to see these casting masters actually curry favor.
“He received the Northern Darkness Sword Sect’s recognition. It is not strange that others would have such thinking.” Chen Mo said.
“Your Servant sees that you are also very enthusiastic about casting, unlike those people so fond of hypocrisy.5 In the Four Sects Wiping Sword, we must see which of us is better. Your Servant is Pan Shi’an.”6 The man introduced himself.
Chen Mo saw the passion he had for casting and felt quite the favorable impression.
Ding Haiyan’s group sneered when they saw Chen Mo and Pan Shi’an. These two truly did not know how to appreciate favors.
Ding Haiyan did not place them in his eyes. In this Sword Sect Wiping Sword, the final casted weapon, the one for Fairy Northern Darkness, would absolutely be his. Anyone else could stop thinking that things would go their way.
The Wiping Sword Field was very much like gymnasiums he had seen before. The difference was that there was an enormous and wide arena at the center. The Wiping Sword Field had three levels altogether. The bottom level was for ordinary warriors, the middle was for some powerful nobility and sects, and the highest level was for the strongest and most influential at the top of the warrior social pyramid. This was an immense location that could contain fifty to sixty thousand people at once, and it was the spot for the Four Sects Wiping Sword. The time to the start of the Four Sects Wiping Sword was down to the last hour. The Wiping Sword Field was already full of people. Not only were there warriors and cultivators from every sect, there were also many disciples who came from noble and aristocratic families. Some of them even were Greater Thunder Tribulation cultivators who were blending in.
To Greater Thunder Tribulation cultivators, a weapon was already not very useful, but the weapons of a casting master sometimes allowed them to obtain pointers from the forged Flying Swords and magic treasures.
The Four Sects Wiping Sword was split into two phases.
The first phase was “casting arts.” The Four Great Disciples from the Sword Casting Villa’s Four Great Branches would carry out a five round competition. These five rounds were divided according to the “Five Elements,” to fully display the degree of comprehension a casting master had for the art.
The second phase was “wiping sword,” and it was the most exciting part of the Four Sects Wiping Sword. After the four disciples went through the competition, the number one disciples of the Four Great Sword Sects were allowed each choose a casting master they found to their liking, to cast a Divine Sword to advance to the final battle.
The Four Sects Wiping Sword was an ancient tradition and contest to grow relations between the Sword Casting Villa and the Four Great Sword Sects. In this competition, not only would the Four Great Sword Sects obtain friendly relations, the Four Great Sword Sects would even decide superiority from this. The strongest Northern Darkness Sword Sect already protected their title as first for twenty consecutive years. They were known by people as the head of the Four Great Sword Sects.
And the disciple representing the Northern Darkness Sword Sect this time was none other than the Sect Master’s daughter. She was Northern Darkness Has Snow, otherwise known as Fairy Northern Darkness. She already had Fifth Layer Lesser Thunder Tribulation cultivation, and she possessed excellent swordsmanship as well as a sword chant. To be able to forge a Divine Sword that was fit for her, any of the young casting masters would leap at the opportunity.
Chen Mo was in the preparation room watching his other three opponents rub their hands in anticipation and restrain their excitement, yet he was very calm.
Although his time in contact with casting was very short relative to the others, he had the Book Of Casting that his mother left behind. The casting introduced inside could be described as the art of gods and demons. An Outer Star Field casting master would basically find it unimaginable. Seizing this Four Sects Wiping Sword was no big problem.
The only issue was how to receive the “affection” of that Fairy Northern Darkness everyone talked about.
Chen Mo knew that the outer surface of this Four Sects Wiping Sword was a competition in casting, but in reality, it was a contest between the Four Great Branches and the Four Great Sword Sects. The Divine Sword casted at the end was the true highlight. To be able to receive the Northern Darkness Sword Sect’s support would be an opportunity best not missed for Chang’an Mansion. Emperor Tang was allied with the Sword Casting Villa. Thus, he would need to form his own alliance with the Four Great Sword Sects. If Chen Mo was able to seize the initiative and obtain Fairy Northern Darkness’ support first, then Chang’an mansion would have the upper hand in terms of lineup. As far as he was aware, that Fairy Northern Darkness, who did not lose out to Princess Yanyu in popularity in the Jianghu, was the beloved daughter of the Northern Darkness Sword Sect’s sect master.
However, the Northern Branch’s Ding Haiyan had always received the Northern Darkness Sword Sect’s assistance. To break this relationship would not be so simple. He would need strength that shocked everyone.
Just as Chen Mo thought this, cheers that could topple mountains and overturn seas came from the Wiping Sword Field.
The gates opened, and the scene outside was bright as snow, the sound of cheers even more suffocating.
“You may ascend the arena.”
A cultivator calmly said.
Chen Mo, Ding Haiyan, Li Tairan and Pan Shi’an rose. They glanced at each other, their gazes like steel. As of this moment, no one was willing to concede defeat.