Chapter 166: Finals

Chapter 166: Finals [Volume 3 - The Place Where My Heart Feels At Peace]

When he arrived at his destination, Qianye finally realized that the spring night scenery Song Zining had drawn in the letter wasn’t a product of his imagination. It was the actually a copy of the scenery right before his eyes.

Spring is a season of even slopes, gradual earth, tall grasses and flying nightingales. Scattered wildflowers adorned the ground here and there, and the origin powered lanterns hovering in mid air looked like migrating stars at first glance. These light sources alone were the products of great expenditure, for the origin powered lanterns themselves were pretty expensive, not to mention the amount of resources it took to keep them floating indefinitely in mid-air.

The banquet was held in the way of the first men’s tradition where every person was given a seat of their own. There were at least hundreds of seats spread out on the wide space as maids and servants traveled back and forth like water streams while holding dishes and tableware on their hands. Female dancers and singers twirled to the entertainment of all as cotton fabric floated like clouds.

The Empire’s nobility was currently engulfed in a trend to revive the ancient ways, and Qianye had witnessed many such events ever since he accepted Qiqi’s mission. However, he was suddenly struck by a strange feeling that this banquet happening just several steps away from him was so unreal that it might as well have been held in a completely different world.

The people of the lower continents struggled hard every day just so that they could secure tomorrow’s food, while the amount of resources spent in a single banquet at the upper continents could probably keep an entire town alive for a time. If this was so, then what was even the point of the forgotten land’s existence?

There were two master seats because tonight’s banquet was co-hosted by the Zhao and Song Household.

In fact, the purpose of this banquet was to identify and recruit potential talents. It was why most of the people who were invited to the banquet came from landowning households. Every person who had earned a seat on this occasion didn't make it here with their surnames, but with true strength. Naturally, those who were fortunate enough to be invited did their best to show off their abilities, and the stream of people around Zhao Junhong and Song Zining’s seats seemed like they would never end. Sometimes, the performers would even compete martial arts with each other. Of course, they were different from arena battles in that the goal was to express their strengths, not fight each other to their deaths.

Song Zining looked up, and he happened to see Qianye pausing at the edge of the grounds some distance away. In fact, he looked like he was about to turn around and leave. Song Zining immediately ordered two Song attendants to stop Qianye and invite him over.

“Qianye!” Song Zining called out to him before saying smilingly, “I didn’t think that Qiqi would let you come.”

Song Zining suddenly sighed as if in great regret before Qianye could say anything, “Speaking of which, Qiqi and Nangong Wanyun were holding a joint banquet over their side too. Now that is a banquet filled with noble ladies. You’ve missed out on a great show, Qianye!” While saying this, Song Zining turned around to look at the banquet grounds before pointing at a certain girl, “That female dancer dressed in red has one helluva flexible body. You can take her back to your room later if you want.”

This time Qianye didn’t want to say anything at all. It would seem that his good friend’s bad taste hadn’t improved with time in the slightest.

In the end, Song Zining pulled Qianye over to his seat. By now, the chatting session was about to end as the people returned to their seats to enjoy delicious wine, delicacies, and the two rows of female dancers whose flying skirts looked like blooming flowers. Meanwhile, Zhao Junhong was drinking alone at the seat beside theirs.

Qianye recalled the banquet held by Duke Wei at the Martial Hall during the first day of the spring hunt. At the time, Zhao Junhong had conversed to no one except Song Zining, Qiqi, and a few other people. No one else drew even a cursory glance from him. Therefore, Qianye was surprised to see him attending a banquet where he would be seated among members of the landed gentry.

When Qianye asked Song Zining about this, his friend couldn’t help but smile, “The Zhao Household may be arrogant, but it’s not like they’re stupid. Every aristocratic family including the imperial family itself needs someone they can use. In fact, the reason they treat people based on their backgrounds is because people of good backgrounds are simply of better talent and resources on average. Of course, I understand that this distinction is obviously biased, but in the case where everyone is a stranger to everyone, this yardstick is effective more often than not.”

Qianye thought about it for a moment and nodded in agreement.

The reason those families of high prestige had come to exist almost at the same time as when the great Qin Empire was founded was because their ancestors were among the first to awaken their origin talent. Although neither the dark races nor the human race had managed to figure out the rules behind all origin powers to this day, and they were unable to effectively control the inheritance of power and the awakening of talent either, it was commonly accepted that the continuation of one’s bloodline was one of the major ways to success. Therefore, it was only natural that the wealth accumulated by these aristocratic families for over 1200 years was used to benefit only their own line of descent. Fairness wasn’t something to consider in this regard.

In fact, the true injustice lay not in the starting line, but in the amount of room for growth. It was completely pointless to complain that different starting lines had resulted in different heights of achievements because the natural evolution of humanity itself was completely diverse. Unlike vampires, humans didn’t possess the ability to create blood thralls whose rank and strength they could control. The only way to deal with this law of nature was to change or accept it.

“That being said, background is but the first cornerstone of one’s life. You must possess ability first before you can earn the respect of others,” Song Zining smiled, “a temperament like Zhao Junhong’s isn’t all that bad. At the very least, the peace and quiet he enjoys is greater than most other people. He only pays attention to two kinds of people: the kind who shares his level of status, and the kind who shares his level of strength.”

“If you put in that way, then I must say that I am looking forward to tomorrow’s battle,” Qianye cast a glance at Song Zining before saying, “Actually, I wanted to fight you first even more.”

Song Zining winked once before saying, “There is always a chance to do so in the future. I’d prefer if our battle is not treated as an item out of an animal taming program, don’t you think?”

Suddenly, his good friend’s smile was full of malice once more. When Qianye recalled Wei Potian’s limp figure, he could almost say with absolute certainty now that Song Zining had done it on purpose. There was no other explanation as to why he didn’t just send Wei Potian out of the ring immediately when he was about to run out of origin power otherwise.

“Qianye, where will you be headed to after the spring hunt is over?”

Qianye had been thinking about this question ever since he decided that this Profound Heaven Spring Hunt would be his final mission for Qiqi. In fact, this question had been plaguing him ever since he left Lighthouse Town. Qianye was painfully aware that he was just a passing traveler without a goal even when he was at Darkblood City.

But now, Qianye had already made up his mind. He said calmly, “I’ll be returning to the Evernight Continent to kill someone.”

Song Zining smiled, “That shouldn’t take too long, should it?”

“He is a Champion. It’ll probably take a very long time.”

Song Zining’s smile immediately went away, “Why do you have an enemy like this? Is it related to your past?” He knew very well what a Champion on Evernight Continent meant. While a Champion might just be a foreign delegate or a family general an aristocratic family, a Champion at Evernight Continent was at least a high-ranking military officer who supervises an entire land!

“No, it’s not.” Qianye said indifferently, “The few true friends I ever had on the Evernight Continent were killed directly or indirectly by his and his son’s hands. Also, he trades black crystals with the dark races.”

Song Zining fell silent for a moment before he asked slowly, “Who is he?”

“He is the brigadier general and the head captain of the Expeditionary Force’s Seventh Division, Wu Zhengnan.”

On the day of the finals, the number of spectators who came to watch the battle was even greater than before. The grandstands especially were full to the brim.

When Qianye entered the field, Zhao Junhong was already waiting for him. His arms were folded, and his eyes were slightly closed. He seemed to be resting in meditation. Suddenly, Zhao Junhong opened his eyes and set his gaze on Qianye like lightning. He said coolly, “I hope you won’t disappoint me.”

Qianye gave him a simple answer, “I will do my best.”

The horn signaling the final battle of the tournament was long and bleak.

Faint, silvery light surfaced from Zhao Junhong’s body, and he abruptly took a step forwards at pointed at Qianye’s glabella!

Although his movements looked weak and gentle, Qianye knew that from the sudden burst of strength and density of the silver light on Zhao Junhong’s fingertips that the attack was no weaker than the strike of an origin weapon!

Qianye let out a low cry and threw an utterly plain punch at Zhao Junhong’s fingertip. He was actually going to clash head-on against Zhao Junhong right from the start of the battle!

Zhao Junhong was prepared for Qianye’s fierce and forceful fighting style since a long time ago. He immediately stretched wide all ten of his fingers, turned his wrists, and grabbed onto Qianye’s fist. Then, he pulled and tossed Qianye into the air. By now the dark red origin power on Qianye’s fist and the silver origin power on Zhao Junhong’s hands had completely intermingled with one another, but surprisingly no origin explosion came from the contact.

Qianye swiftly counteracted the throw with his own hands and moved horizontally across the air across Zhao Junhong’s head using the borrowed strength, landing on the other side of the ground. His dodge was ingenious because he barely dodged three consecutive strikes from Zhao Junhong by moving his body several times while he was flying through the air. The three silver beams had practically brushed past him without an inch to spare.

Qianye immediately kicked out sideways at Zhao Junhong’s waist the second he landed on the ground, but Zhao Junhong merely caught it with his arms and sent Qianye backing away several meters with a simple push. Naturally, Qianye’s follow up kick missed its target as a result.

The two combatants had traded blows like lightning in just a single exchange, and both the attack and defense executed were absolutely brilliant. When the duo separated, thunderous applause from the spectators broke out and shook the very ground.

Even Duke Wei was nodding slightly and commenting, “Not bad.”

Apprehension gripped Qianye after the exchange was done. It was only after he fought Zhao Junhong in melee that he realized just how powerful the man was. The Zhao second young master possessed such outstanding close combat technique that he didn’t feel like one of those house flowers at all. Moreover, his origin power was most likely of the attribute that countered the Combatant Formula, because the exchange of palms and finger strikes earlier made no sound at all.

Zhao Junhong was also looking seriously at Qianye. The silver glow enveloping his body grew brighter and brighter as he said, “You really are pretty impressive.”

A ray of silver light suddenly lit up from between Zhao Junhong’s brows as if he suddenly grew a third eye. He suddenly moved like he was gliding across the water surface, showing up before Qianye instantly and pointing at him once more. This time, however, his fingertip was quite far away from Qianye. The silvery light gathering before his fingertip abruptly brightened and fired out a solid line of silver right at Qianye’s chest.

Someone cried out from the grandstand, “It’s the Silver Sword Finger!”

The Silver Sword Finger was one of the more reputable secret combat techniques practiced by the members of the Zhao Household. It was built on the concept that one’s origin power was condensed into a solid form that was as sharp and unbreakable as an actual blade. This was a Champion rank secret technique, but not only had Zhao Junhong mastered the basics, he actually managed to form the origin blade too. He truly deserved to be called a genius!

Qianye immediately felt that a huge threat was headed his way. The faint line of silver actually made him feel like an origin bullet was headed his way! Without any hesitation, Qianye let out a low cry and punched out again straight at the silver line of origin power!

The Combatant Formula cycled swiftly inside Qianye’s body, overlapping one another and reaching nearly the thirtieth cycle in the blink of an eye. Fierce origin power poured out of his fist and slammed fiercely into the silver line!

The front part of the silver line crumbled but didn’t disappear. Instead, it split into dozens of slimmer silver threads and penetrated into Qianye’s origin power, wanting to climb all the way into the roots!

Qianye’s origin power rose and fall like tidewaters, and a wave of origin power abruptly rose and gushed out his fist again before the initial tide had even subsided. Like a wall, it blocked and scattered the rain of silver threads.

Meanwhile, Zhao Junhong himself had let out a clear roar and caused the scattering silver threads to turn back suddenly. They twisted against Qianye’s origin power and attempted to cut a path through the tides. However, Qianye’s origin power was just as tenacious, unfading even when it was broken down piece by piece. In fact, it was resurging at the center and attempting to break towards Zhao Junhong once more.

Their origin powers became completely mingled in the blink of an eye, clashing and fighting against each other at every level.

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