Chapter 99: The End of the Rankings
"No...it can’t be," the elder of Snow Mountain shook his head, but his words were hesitating;fear was evident in his eyes. This world was vast. This continent alone contained many experts, experts who were so strong their names had long remained known throughout the entire world, experts that brought peace, glory, and stability to the continent. However, they were also some experts known for their insanity, their madness and illogical spontaneity of their actions.
The man they were all thinking about was one of these deranged experts. He was someone who claimed to be one of the strongest in the entire world, but also worked without logic.
"He vanished years ago; there is no way he would suddenly emerge," the Snow Mountain Elder tried to explain to himself. Nonetheless,looking at Xu Min’s recent attack , his heart screamed the truth. Who knew if this man was truly his master, and if he was, wasn't that tantamount to having made an enemy out of the world's number one lunatic?
This, he could not accept. Thus he refused to believe that there was a connection between the two. In spite of this conclusion, no matter how much he thought about it he had no other solution to as to why Xu Min was capable of using this attack. He started to feel real fear the enemy that his Snow Mountain had created.
It was not only him. Anyone allied with Snow Mountain felt the same fear; this new discovery caused many to glare at Snow Mountain with displeasure. If their sects and families fell because of them and their decisions they could never face their ancestors in the afterlife.
"Perhaps he stumbled across a heritage left behind by him," the Snow Mountain Elder said lowly but just high enough for all to hear it. Nany agreed. Still, none of them wished to insult Xu Min further. If there was even the slightest chance that his master was the famous lunatic they were thinking of, they just signed their own death certificate.
Inside the Immortal Valley, Xu Min was standing still. His body was shaking as he had overdrawn his energy, and he was deadly pale. Still, he had killed all the hundred experts that came against him; he was incredibly excited because of this.
"I need to meditate now," he said seriously. He abruptly sat down in the middle of the bloodstained battlefield, not caring for the many corpses which littered the ground around him.
He quickly started to absorb the essence of the heavens and the earth into his dantian and refined it into Qi, ensuring that he soon could at least move again.
While cultivating, he once more became one with the world. He entered this ethereal state where his mind was everywhere, and he was able to enter into enlightenment.
While he was thinking, the wind around him was gently blowing around his body. He could feel everything everywhere around him. He felt that without using his Qi, he could control the wind in the surrounding area. Xu Min realized all he needed was his thoughts. Consequently, with just one thought, he created a wind blade made from only the wind, no Qi, and he used it to slice at one of the corpses on the ground.
This wind blade was not as strong as the blade that he had made with the Qi, but it was much times swifter. It was as though a whole world opened up in Xu Min’s mind, and he finally understood how he could use the wind around him exactly as he wished to. If he merged with it, either his swordlight or his Qi he could make the most dangerous attacks while being concealed by the wind.
Xu Min was not very knowledgeable when it came to cultivation. He knew that there were nine stars of the Warrior rank. Thus, he wished to become a nine-star Warrior. However, he was unaware of the fact that humans could not control the elements. Seeing all those elemental imitated attacks he saw earlier, he thought they were real, much like how he was controlling the wind right now.
While Xu Min was busy cultivating, no one dared to come near him. No one was attempting to kill him now, and even Ouyang Xiu ordered his men to stay back and not interrupt him. Ouyang Xiu remembered being taught about the enlightened experience one has after a life and death battle. It was very important, and if he interrupted Xu Min, it was likely that he would lose his spark of enlightenment.
Instead, Ouyang Xiu and his followers stayed just outside of Xu Min's reach, observing him, guarding him and chatting amongst one another.
"Who was it that wanted to have a sparring match with him before?" A woman asked teasingly as she looked at the man in question. As soon as the words escaped her lips, his face turned dark from anger first and then red in embarrassment of his own actions previously. It was clear that Xu Min had been telling the truth. He truly did not know how to hold back, and if they had sparred, it was likely to have ended with the death of the other person.
Ouyang Xiu chuckled as he heard them joke behind him, yet his eyes did not leave Xu Min. Having befriended this young man was a good decision, but he feared that he was going to misunderstand why they had not assisted him in the battle. It was not because they did not want to, truly, but because Xu Min had simply been too frenzied in his attacks. He was so frenzied in fact that no one was capable of staying alive.
As Ouyang Xiu was thinking this, his eyes twitched slightly. However, he also felt that Xu Min would understand this. He did not know if he wished for the younger man to wake up as soon as possible so that he could explain their reasoning, or if he wished that he did not wake up anytime soon, so he did not have to explain. His emotions were mixed.
No matter what Ouyang Xiu wished, he had no control over Xu Min. The young man was completely unaware of the fact that he was being observed. In his mind, the only thing which he was trying to comprehend was the fact that he needed to fully comprehend and understand the marvelous power of the Wind.
Xu Min was seated in meditation for a full seven hours before he finally opened his eyes. Once he did, the wind in the surrounding areas all rose into a gale. The tattered clothes on his body fluttered in the wind together with his hair, and he smiled happily as he felt his body become one with the wind.
The sudden gale instantly died down. Xu Min stood up, a great smile was on his lips. "Brother Ouyang!" Xu Min called out as he saw the Ouyang camp standing by his side. He was surprised. Every corpse had been removed from the battleground, but the blood and stench of death were still heavy in the air.
"What is this?" he asked surprised. "Did you clean after me?" He had not wished to trouble the Ouyang family with such a messy job of cleaning up after his killing, but Ouyang Xiu shook his head, "these people who died were teleported out of the Immortal Valley. Their corpses can be picked up by their families, or they will be cremated and their ashes spread over the Immortal Valley."
Hearing this explanation, Xu Min was enlightened once more. He had not guessed that the Immortal Valley Guardians actually took care of the killed experts, but thinking about it, every person was a genius of the younger generation. It was only natural that their families wished to bring back their remains.
"To be honest, though there are deaths every time an Immortal Valley Ranking, this is the first time it has been this bloody," Ouyang Xiu continued. "In recent years a hundred experts have died on average in each ranking, but this year you killed a hundred experts in an hour, just like that!! It is simply hard to understand how it is possible."
Xu Min just laughed, "I would not have killed that many, had they not tried to kill me," he said. Ouyang Xiu nodded his head. Although this had been a bloody Immortal Valley Ranking, it did not affect him. As a matter of fact, it was beneficial to him as it was all his opponents that were being killed one after another. Almost the entire younger generation of Snow Mountain had been killed. This was a cause for celebration.
Xu Min returned to the Ouyang camp and one day slowly took another. Often the experts from the camp would group up and enter the deep forests on search for treasures to gain or beasts to kill.
While everyone was busy with their treasure hunts ,Xu Min was focused on learning the stances that he had stolen from the many people he had killed. While focused on this, he came to realized that control over elements was not something humans were capable of doing. Every time he encountered a problem with cultivation he would go to Ouyang Xiu to chat with him. He soon understood that elemental energies could not be merged with Qi unless one was a fairy.
Realizing that it had to do with fairies, Xu Min quickly understood that it had to do with the fairy he had encountered within the Blood Pagoda. Absorbing that energy was enough to give him some control over her element.
Xu Min made sure not to tell anyone about this control over Wind as he kept it as a secret weapon but while training he would often merge Qi and swordlight with the wind.
One day after another went by and soon the year had come to pass. The entire Ouyang faction was standing together with Xu Min on the side and a ripple descended down upon every member present as they were teleported out of the Immortal Valley.
As they arrived at the platform where they had entered into the Immortal Valley in the first place, they found that all the seats were filled with the elders and experts from the various families, clans and sects and all of them were staring at one person, Xu Min.
Although Xu Min had performed amazingly during his time within the Immortal Valley Ranking, he had made many enemies by killing the younger generation experts. Thus, what they saw in the eyes of these elders was disbelief, worry and lingering fear. All these families had experts far stronger than Xu Min in their midsts, a single elder would be able to kill Xu Min instantly. However, they still showed their fear causing everyone else to be worried about what exactly the audience had seen from the water screens. Could Xu Min have gained some incredible legacy during the Immortal Valley Rankings or was there some other thing that caused this fear?
Everyone present made sure to ask the families about it later but for now they did not have the time. A delegation of Guardians appeared behind the teleportation array leading into the Immortal Valley. With a few ancient words no one understood, the formation dimmed and no one would be able to activate it until the Guardians chose to do so next time.
“The winner of this year’s Immortal Valley Ranking is the unaffiliated Xu Min,” a loud voice boomed through the silence. No one cheered, no one booed, everyone were completely quiet. With an approving nod, the Guardian continued his announcements.
“The second place goes to Ouyang Xiu from the Ouyang Family.”
“Third place goes to Dong Qi from the Swordsplitter Sect.”
“We, the Guardians of The Immortal Valley, have decided to reward the first place with a chance to join our sect and study in our Immortal Valley Academy.”
“The second place will be rewarded with five thousand spirit pills.”
“The third place will be rewarded with two heavenly treasures.”