Chapter 311: The Foundation of Survival [Volume 5 – A Distance Within Reach]
Having seen him sweep out Song Zian in advance, Qianye’s opponent in the top-eight battle was obviously low in fighting spirit. Qianye was thus able to score an easy victory.
Song Zining, on the other hand, faced off against Song Zian’s guest warrior. Both sides had shed all pretenses after yesterday’s battle—that warrior immediately launched a series of killing moves and wasn’t at all hesitant to exchange injuries. He obviously intended to push Song Zining into dire straits.
However, Song Zining finally displayed astonishing combat prowess in this battle. He used the Song clan secret art, Fueled Fire Spear. This spear art was most suitable for group combat in the battlefield and, in his hands, possessed the destructive might of a formidable army. The fight between the two didn’t last long before that guest warrior was killed on the spot.
This was the first mortal bout during this martial examination, however, the audience was silent and no one made any criticisms. Song Zian had lost yet another powerful general and this damage could be considered disastrous.
The top-four was thus produced. Qianye would soon face Song Ziqi, while Song Zining’s opponent was Song Zicheng.
Song Ziqi had just crossed over the champion threshold and was an entire level inferior to Song Zian in combat strength. In comparison, Qianye had advanced to rank-nine after drinking the Heavenly Wind Dew. As such, there was little suspense in the following battle. Qianye didn’t even need to use Eye Ability: Control before he had broken through Song Ziqi’s defenses and injured him with a flurry of sword strikes.
Qianye really wanted to leave some disability on Song Ziqi if not for Song Tu keeping a close eye on him from nearby. But even so, he should be bedridden for at least three to five days.
On the other hand, an intense battle had erupted between Song Zining and Song Zicheng.
As the eldest son of the current clan lord, Song Zicheng had always firmly held the first successor’s position. He had much more resources at his disposal and should’ve held a complete advantage in terms of combat arts and weaponry. Only when the two made their appearance did people realize Song Zining had already swapped out his gear and was actually equipped with a full set of grade-six armaments.
Even as members of a clan known for its great wealth, everyone was still visibly moved—Song Zian only possessed a single grade-six weapon and Song Zicheng only had two pieces of grade-six armor. When the examination began, Duchess An had publicly granted Song Zining a grade-six defensive ring as a life-saving measure.
That was because everyone knew that Song Zining’s paternal and maternal lineages weren’t at all prominent and his future wife belonged to a landowning household. There was no way for him to have accumulated anything significant. With his current ranking as a successor, his quota of resources and benefits were hardly enough to put together a set of grade-four defensive gear and a grade-five weapon, let alone an entire set of grade-six equipment.
Naturally, all the elders knew Song Zining owned a private industry known as the Ningyuan Group, but who among the grown main family descendants didn’t own a number of factories and workshops? But if this set of equipment did come from his personal business, it signified that the scale of his assets wasn’t small at all, not to mention it had only been a few years since he started managing things on his own.
Many elders were instantly overcome by a peculiar feeling.
Duchess An suddenly asked, “Zhongnian, Zining is from your branch. Where are the origins of the little things on him?”
Song Zhongnian was also looking at Song Zining. He pondered for a moment after hearing the duchess’ words before answering, “In my opinion, part of the equipment should be from his personal accumulations, while the remainder was put together via his connections.”
“Putting together” was no different from borrowing money. However, the elders all nodded in succession, knowing that being able to borrow was also an ability.
“Zining this child seems to be growing progressively better.” The old ancestor’s words petrified the smiles on many of the elders’ faces.
Song Zining’s fighting style during this round was completely different from the last. Against Song Zicheng’s “Embroidered Sword Art”, which was adept in both offense and defense, he immediately unleashed the Three Thousand Flying Leaf Art’s domain.
At this moment, the three hundred meter radius of the arena was filled with a hint of autumn rain. Countless strands of fine origin power materialized in the air and wove into a network of air-tight defenses. After sensing an external origin power assault the very next moment, the origin power was once again transformed into blades of wind which spun back to mount a counterattack.
The Song clan descendants in the audience had never seen this secret art which no one had succeeded in cultivating in hundreds of years. The elders, on the other hand, more or less understood this technique, and as such, everyone was wearing different expressions. However, they also seemed to have different worries in their hearts. Even the discussions had lessened by quite a bit and the stage was completely silent.
The “Three Thousand Flying Leaves Art”, like many other high-ranking secret arts, was classified into three ranks and nine realms. Normally, most people would only reach the middle rank in their entire lifetime. The high rank could only be achieved through enlightenment and opportunities—there was no shortcut whatsoever. Once a person reached high-rank in any type of secret art, he would have little obstruction when breaking through the last few champion ranks. This also meant that he had the potential to break through to the rank of divine champion.
Song Zining’s current “Three Thousand Flying Leaf Art” had actually reached the “Autumn Sunset” realm which was the fifth realm of the middle rank! In terms of secret art realms, Song Zining was already number one among the Song clan’s younger generation—the others behind him wouldn’t be able to catch up to him for several years at least.
Song Zicheng’s only advantage was in his origin power. His combat art wasn’t weak either and was just about to break through to middle-rank. However, it was greatly evened out by Song Zining’s superior gear. It was inevitable that the battle would drag on since both parties were high in defense but lacking in offense.
The battle lasted for an entire two hours before Song Zining finally exhausted his origin power and faced an unfortunate loss.
Although Song Zicheng could still support Song Zining, he himself was pale as a sheet when he stepped off the arena. His footsteps felt weak, and he could hardly take the final steps when he reached the border of the arena. Had Song Zining held on for ten more minutes, the first to collapse might’ve been Song Zicheng.
That afternoon, the final battle commenced between Song Zicheng and Qianye.
As soon as he entered the arena, Song Zicheng decisively announced, “I concede!”
He was overly worn out from his battle with Song Zining. Even with the use of superior medicines, he hadn’t recovered from the weakened state arising from his overdraft of origin power.
The Song clan elders on the stage all wore odd expressions as Song Tu announced the results of the competition. And Song Zhongxing’s laughter, at this moment, sounded incomparably grating to the ears. The rules of the Song clan’s successor examination was highly advantageous for the clan descendants. In the end, the champion’s position was actually taken by an outsider. If this matter were to leak out, it would more or less affect the Song clan’s prestige.
However, the elders’ appraisal of Song Zicheng’s forfeiture wasn’t uniform. This was also the special characteristic of a clan built upon commerce—give up on the impossible and find another way.
At this point, Duchess An said, “Summon Song Zining and that child onto the stage. I wish to have a few words with them.”
Moments later, Qianye followed Song Zining onto the stage and stood before Duchess An. Only at this point did Qianye have the opportunity to observe this legendary Song clan ancestor. He only glanced at her once before quickly lowering his head.
Although Duchess An’s hair was as white as snow, her countenance wasn’t as aged as one might expect. She might possibly be mistaken for a middle-aged lady if she had dyed her hair black. But her pair of eyes, filled with the vicissitudes of the passing years, vaguely revealed the secrets of her age.
When Duchess An’s gaze landed on Qianye’s body, she merely sized him up and didn’t use her perception to probe his origin power and constitution. This little detail allowed Qianye to feel a little bit more relaxed.
Duchess An said after a glance, “Not bad. Both children are not bad. Having you as a friend is also Zining’s good fortune.”
Friends? Qianye’s heart trembled ever so slightly after hearing those words and immediately replied, “Thank you for the praise.”
Duchess An said to her attendants with a smile, “This child is so talented and polite. I like him. Someone, bring me that box.”
A nearby attendant presented a cedar box inlaid with silver and opened it before everyone, revealing three origin bullets within.
These bullets were completely silver in color. However, they weren’t as shiny as mithril and, instead, possessed a type of simple yet profound depth to it. Additionally, there were unique patterns upon them which seemed to have been embedded layer by layer. From a design perspective, it was somewhat similar to the work of the great master from Dog Claw Town, but the craftsmanship was vastly superior.
Under Duchess An’s indication, Qianye received the box of origin bullets from the maid’s hands. As soon as the items entered his hands, he was astonished to find that the intensity of the origin power fluctuations being emitted was significantly greater than that of a Mithril Bullet of Exorcism.
Duchess An said warmly, “These are Refined Silver Bullets of Extreme Yang produced by our Song clan, slightly different from the ones on the market. You won the first place in the competition and yet I have nothing good on hand to give you. I’ll just let you have these little things so that you can use it to protect yourself.”
The elders nearby were still able to keep their composure, but the same couldn’t be said for the Song clan disciples below. Many people revealed expressions of pain and envy—it was a rather marvelous scene.
The Refined Silver Bullets of Extreme Yang were powerful killer weapons comparable to the Black Titanium Bullets of Annihilation. Moreover, those produced privately by the Song clan had been heavily modified. Every shot was handcrafted and involved dozens of high-ranking artisans toiling away for several months. This so-called “slight difference” spoken by Duchess An was equal to a gap between the heaven and earth for ordinary people.
This kind of Refined Silver Bullet of Extreme Yang was a killing weapon unique to the Song clan and could kill a dark race viscount even when fired from a grade four to five origin gun. Such ammunition was usually supplied to the personal guards of the imperial family. Many great experts would fight over them in the rare occasion that they leaked out into the public market. Even Song Zicheng and Song Zian had only two each on as a life-saving measure. Song Zining, with his current status, haven’t even gotten one such bullet.
But Qianye, as an external warrior, was given three in one go. How could this not make the other disciples envious?
Duchess An waited until Qianye had put away the box before glancing at the people around her. “Our human race’s greatest nemesis is still the dark race. As such, the foundation of our survival is still on the battlefield against them. The reason our Song clan established ourselves as merchants was, in fact, so that we can provide support to those on the front lines. You lot must be thinking that my reward is excessive. These little things will take the lives of three dark race viscounts in this child’s hands. In the hands of you unworthy descendants, however, they’re likely to be sold off for business capital and become part of a personal collection in another clan’s armory.”
These words exposed many people’s thoughts, causing them to be drenched in cold sweat.
Duchess An sighed. “The path of the martial arts, outside, can defend us from the other races, while inside, it is the very foundation of our clan. The intention of holding this decennial examination is to reverse our Song clan’s weaknesses, but some still fail to understand this logic. Resorting to trickery has become so much of a habit in daily life that you can’t change your methods when true swords and spears are required. If we continue developing this way, how will there be any bravery and courage left? Can we still expect anything from you all when our survival is at stake?”
“The title of a great clan isn’t perpetual after being granted to a certain family. A thousand years ago when the empire was founded, there were seven great clans. Later on, within a short two hundred years, they were reduced to three and then back to nine great clans during the period of resurgence. How prosperous an age! Counting from the fall of the Zhu clan, it’s been over three hundred years now since power was divided amongst the four clans…”
Qianye listened with bated breath. This was the first time he learned of the detailed historical changes of the clans. He had no contact with such things during his time at Yellow Springs or Red Scorpion.
Qianye shot Song Zining a glance and found him just listening to the lecture with his eyes lowered just like everyone else. He seemed no different from his usual self.
But with Qianye’s understanding of him, he knew that there was a lot on Song Zining’s mind and that the latter felt little joy from his good grades at the successor’s examination. It seemed as though his depressed mood had grown more obvious since after the battle between Qianye and Song Zian.
Recalling all that had happened during these few days, Qianye couldn’t help but let out a secret sigh. Perhaps he should find some time to talk with Song Zining about this. The Song clan was, after all, related to the latter by blood. Regardless of his choice, this decision must’ve been an extremely difficult one to make, even for someone as decisive as Song Zining.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
2/7 of the week. Enjoy ^_^