It was quiet inside and outside the roofed corridor.
Countless gazes followed the moving tip of He Zhan's brush pen.
The expressions on people's faces were both shocked and perplexed.
It didn't take too long before He Zhan stopped painting. He nodded in satisfaction as he looked at the painting for a while.
He gave back the brush pen to the painter, took out the alcohol jar from inside his waist and drank a mouthful from it agreeably.
The Sect Master of the Kunlun sneered without speaking a word and had left.
"The painting is not too bad; it's not a disgrace anyway."
Nan Wang had also left the roofed corridor after speaking these words.
What she said was sounded like praise for He Zhan, but everybody was aware that she was referring to Jing Jiu and let all the people present hear the comment.
Yet, this painting drawn by He Zhan was really excellent.
That plum branch was both twisting and straight, extending toward the dark gray sky in the distance, and the red plum flowers were blooming like the flames on the branch. They obviously were before lookers' eyes, and yet they seemed so far away.
This painting had been almost empty before, however, and so many plum flowers had to be added to the painting that day that even the smallest of flowers couldn't all fit in the painting if the regular painting style had been used. He Zhan had used quite a smart way of painting to resolve the tricky issue. His way of painting could be called "amazing". More importantly, the artistic conception was far-reaching and worth thinking on and appreciating over and over again.
The Cultivation practitioners who were watching from the outside of the corridor came to their senses and all approached the painting, and they couldn't help but discuss the details of the painting. The shocked feeling they had was lingering.
"What is going on here? Why so many plum flowers have been painted? How many flowers are there?"
"How could we possibly count all these flowers?"
All the Cultivation practitioners could see were that all the plum flowers had stemmed from the branch belonging to Jing Jiu, but they couldn't count how many were there.
The painter was collecting his brush pen and the inks as he said, "I don't know how many Young Master He has painted, but the file told me clearly that the total plum flowers are seventy-seven."
Upon hearing this number, the Cultivation practitioners couldn't help but take a few deep breaths, wondering how this could be possible.
At the past Plum Meetings, no participant in the Cultivation tournament could have killed so many monsters of the Snowy Kingdom in one single night!
Was something wrong with the count?
The painter sighed and said, "It was the Cold-Signal Bird that did the counting. They have only reported twenty themselves."
It was quiet again in front of the roofed corridor.
After a long moment of silence, an indignant voice rang out.
"I guess the first place in the Cultivation tournament for this year can be announced in advance."
Before this day, Luo Huainan and Tong Lu had the most plum flowers, close to thirty, but their numbers were way lower than Jing Jiu's…
As that Cultivation practitioner said, there was no more suspense left concerning first place at the Cultivation tournament. From this point on, they just needed to wait for other participants to finish their plum flower paintings.
The question they had was how Jing Jiu had achieved this feat.
The rumor had it that Jing Jiu was a gifted swordsman of the Green Mountain Sect, and he might be the disciple for experiencing the mortal world from the Fruit Formation Temple. But, he was still at a young age and hadn't achieved that many outstanding feats before this Plum Meeting, and his reputation or significance wasn't near his colleagues like Zhao Layue and Zhuo Ruosui, or Luo Huainan, Tong Yan and Bai Zao.
Nobody had anticipated that Jing Jiu would have brought such a shock to the Cultivation world after a single night.
"There's no way he'll win first place in the Cultivation tournament."
An external Cultivation practitioner of the Center Sect said with a gloomy face, "The standard for judging the Cultivation tournament is to finish the plum flower painting, or in other words, to finish the painting perfectly, not simply with a large number of flowers."
Though his statement sounded resentful, it was reasonable in some sense.
Many people present here remembered that the Broadsword King participated in the Plum Meeting as a regular disciple of the Windy Broadsword Sect many years ago and that he defeated the swordsmen of the Center Sect, the Green Mountain Sect, and the Water-Moon Nunnery to win first place in the Cultivation tournament, shocking all of Chaotian.
Back then, his painting had only one plum flower.
How could one plum flower be called the "perfect" painting?
It was because that plum flower was really huge.
During the Cultivation tournament, he was unlucky enough to have encountered a rarely seen snow worm in the King State.
Then, he was lucky enough to have killed that snow worm of the King State and survived.
That painting became very famous.
If one large plum flower occupied the whole painting, it wouldn't look good, let alone look perfect.
Yet, the painter had done something back then similar to what He Zhan did this day; he painted only half plum flower on the paper.
The half-bloody plum flower covered the whole sky. Its powerful presentation had no parallel.
Could Jing Jiu's plum flower painting be called perfect?
Many people looked at that Cultivation practitioner with a mocking expression in their eyes.
It was of course perfect.
The painting could be called a perfect one even if it wasn't so perfect itself.
It was because of the Young Zen Master who would judge the plum flower paintings.
They had all heard of the Young Zen Master's evaluation of Jing Jiu the other day.
At the time, Jing Jiu had done nothing, but the Young Zen Master found some witty words to excuse him. And now Jing Jiu had performed so well.
If the Young Zen Master had seen the painting now, he might have already announced the first place for the Cultivation tournament.
One could claim that the Young Zen Master had a preference for Jing Jiu, but everybody also knew that the Immortal Jing Yang was a half-master of the Young Zen Master, and that Jing Jiu was the personal disciple of the Immortal Jing Yang.
Seeing the gazes of other Cultivation practitioners, the speaker said angrily, "Since his partners haven't gotten even one flower, I'm not convinced anyway."
Someone said sentimentally, "No matter whether you are convinced or not, it looks like Luo Huainan won't be able to win first place this year; it's astonishing."
He Zhan enjoyed looking at the painting he had painted earlier. He took a drink from the alcohol jar every time he had a look at the painting, and soon he finished half of the wine in the jar. The more he looked at the painting, the more he liked it.
Hearing the discussions, He Zhan shook his head as he said, "Tong Yan couldn't beat Jing Jiu in the chess tournament; why would you think Luo Huainan could beat him in the Cultivation tournament?"
Nobody knew if the Young Zen Master had seen that painting, but the Cultivation tournament continued.
The young Cultivation practitioners participating in the Cultivation tournament had encountered some unexpected situations on the snowy land, like what Jing Jiu and Bai Zao had. Those snow monsters that shouldn't have woken during the summer season and the extremely cold thick fog had caused a great deal of trouble for them, and gradually the casualties occurred.
Bai Zao had already sent her judgment back to Zhaoge City, but the thoughts of various sect masters were unknown. They didn't give additional instructions except for the warning that the participants should be careful with the cold fog.
The intention of the Cultivation tournament was to test their Dao Hearts when they actually faced life-and-death situations; so the tournament wouldn't be called off so easily when the participants encountered some dangers.
The last time the Cultivation tournament had been ended before schedule was two hundred years ago. It was due to the monster invasion, much more serious than the situation this time.
The young people in the Cultivation tournament pushed toward the deeper parts of the snowy land bravely.
And Luo Huainan's and Tong Lu's groups had already penetrated a hundred miles into that dark mountain range.
At this point, another event had happened, causing a great deal of discussion in West Mountain Residence again.
Those young Cultivation practitioners had suddenly stopped moving forward, staying at the entrance to the valley for two whole days.
What did they want to do?
The most troublesome part for these masters of the Cultivation world was that it was Jing Jiu who asked these young people to discontinue, according to the news from the frontline.
It was Jing Jiu….again.
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