Zhuo Rusui was highly agitated; his shout was very loud, with a hoarse tone at the end, and it sounded quite absurd.
But what he had just said was even more ridiculous.
Everybody knew that Jing Jiu held the Fairy Book in his left hand so that he couldn't release the hand and all he could do was put it behind his back; but what Zhuo Rusui claimed made Jing Jiu's posture seem as if he was cutting the Unicorn some slack by merely using one of his hands.
Moreover, the swordsmen in the Free Travel State didn't need the aid of the sword instruction; as such, using one hand had no difference from using two hands.
The Unicorn ignored this crazy Green Mountain disciple who didn't even dare look at him, and stared into Jing Jiu's eyes while asking dubiously, "Are we doing it right here?"
Zhao Layue suddenly opened her mouth to say, "You have lived tens of thousands of years, but you doubt that you can control your force. Did you live all those years for nothing useful?"
She had suddenly made such a cynical statement that she wouldn't do under the normal circumstances, indicating that she was very nervous at the moment.
Though she didn't know what this Tranquil Garden meant to Jing Jiu, she was vaguely aware that this place must be able to benefit him.
"At least I have lived a more useful life than your Dead Dog."
Qi Ling made this comment nonchalantly. Then he ceased paying any more attention to Zhao Layue and that crazy Green Mountain disciple who was looking at a large building in the distance all the time. "Shall we begin?" he asked Jing Jiu.
As he spoke, Qi Ling stared at Jing Jiu's eyes the entire time. Both he and the Immortal Bai suspected Jing Jiu's origin; if he was the reincarnation of Jing Yang, he needed to pay the uppermost attention to Jing Jiu, though Jing Jiu was merely in the middle state of Free Travel and could be killed by a flicker of his fingers.
Jing Jiu didn't respond. His wrist twisted slightly, pointing the tip of the black iron sword upwards a little.
Though it was a casual movement, it contained a high degree of self-confidence. In Qi Ling's eyes, this was a challenging gesture.
Nonchalantly, Qi Ling flicked the fingers on his right hand slightly. As a result, a band of smoke like energy dashed in a straight line toward Jing Jiu's head.
This band of smoke looked very slim, but there was an extremely horrifying feel to it, as if it were as heavy as a mountain.
Seeing this, the expression on Zhao Layue's face changed abruptly, knowing very well that she had no chance to block it.
The worst part was that she wouldn't have enough time to pull out the sword even if she wanted to use the Thoughtless Sword to block it.
The strike seemed to be a casual move on Qi Ling's part, but it actually struck out as fast as the lightning. Those present in the Tranquil Garden didn't even notice when he raised his hand, bent his fingers, and flicked.
Time seemed to be frozen at that moment.
Even though he had indeed limited his Cultivation state to the Yuanying State, the power unleashed was still quite formidable.
He had an unimaginably powerful strength as well as unparalleled speed.
Under the circumstances, Jing Jiu had no chance of evading the incoming sword attack, even if he employed the amazing Underworld Fairy Sword that was rather wonderful and unpredictable.
Yet, Jing Jiu had successfully blocked the assault.
As Qi Ling stared at Jing Jiu's eyes, he also stared back at Qi Ling's eyes at the same time.
He didn't look at Qi Ling's hand, or his shoulder, or the rims of his clothes fluttering with the wind, but his eyes only.
As Qi Ling's pupils moved, he moved as well, and predicted where the flicking would land.
The broad and ugly iron sword returned from midair and hovered in front of Jing Jiu like a shield, blocking his eyes and the sky.
If it could block the sky, then nothing could penetrate it.
The band of the light smoke landed precisely on the black iron sword.
The burned residual on the surface of the black iron sword seemed to become flexible; it sprang back abruptly after being dented slightly.
The force that was almost tangible continued assaulting the sword, then spread out in all directions and returned to the air, forming dozens of air waves.
In the end, the force coalesced into an audible form.
The relatively weak sound had turned into a terrifying thunderous booming in the blink of an eye.
It exploded on the ground like heavenly thunder.
Even if all the bells of the temples in the world rang at the same time, they wouldn't be able to overwhelm this booming sound.
The subsequent air wave hurled up all the objects in the Tranquil Garden. Smoke and dust rose up everywhere.
Zhuo Rusui's face turned pale.
Xi Yiyun spat out another mouthful of fresh blood.
Bai Qianjun grunted and then backed up two paces.
This was the result after Monk Duhai and Monk Dachang tried to shield the garden.
One could imagine how powerful the band of smoke created by a gentle flicker of Qi Ling's fingers was.
The onslaught sword formed by flicking fingers alarmed heaven and earth.
All the monks at the Fruit Formation Temple had heard of it. They all walked out of the buildings, and looked in the direction of the backyard with a baffled expression.
The villagers outside the temple who were ready for the New Year had heard of it clearly, wondering which village had exploded a thunder firecracker with such a loud effect.
In the vegetable garden, Liu Shisui heard of the thunderous booming sound, feeling a bit worried. He could tell that it was not a thunder firecracker detonated by the villagers.
Seeing his expression, Xiao He asked softly, "Should…you go there to check it out?"
After a moment of silence, Liu Shisui picked up the chopsticks and continued eating, saying, "My Young Master didn't want me to go there; so he must have his reason. I listen to him."
Xiao He was puzzled, as she asked, "Don't you worry that he might be in trouble?"
Liu Shisui picked up the sliced beef in the pickles with the chopsticks and put it in the rice, and then had a mouthful of the rice. "My Young Master will be okay," he mumbled.
Yet, Jing Jiu was actually in trouble.
As the smoke and dusts settled down, he was not in the original spot anymore but "retreated" into the roofed corridor…
A crack of several feet deep was created when his body bumped into the corridor, as if it was etched into the corridor.
A dozen faint but apparent sword wills emerged along with the ruffling of his hair and cloth's rims, revealing his inborn shapeless Sword Body.
Qi Ling had forced Jing Jiu to use all of his sword wills by simply flicking his fingers.
Though Qi Ling had merely employed his power of the Yuanying State, his original body was simply too powerful…as such he still dealt an unbelievable assault.
It was generally accepted that he was the most powerful being in Chaotian, except for that being in the Snowy Kingdom.
However, what stunned the people in the Tranquil Garden the most was not how powerful Qi Ling was, because it was a well known fact, but… was the fact that Jing Jiu didn't fall down on his face after being assaulted.
Jing Jiu staggered out from the roofed corridor, the wood chips dipping from his cloth, and blood trickling down from the corners of his mouth.
He raised his left hand that was holding the Fairy Book to his mouth and wiped off the blood, and then burned it with a waft of green smoke, no trace of it remaining.
No one noticed that a part of the green smoke entered his left hand through the gap between his fingers.
Seeing the scene, Xi Yiyun was stunned speechless, and Bai Qianjun was quite surprised that Jing Jiu had withstood the powerful assault from Qi Ling.
Qi Ling narrowed his eyes as he took a step forward.
It was then that a shout burst out in the Tranquil Garden.
"It was the first stroke!"
The speaker was Zhuo Rusui; he had stated something everybody was aware of.
He didn't intend to ease the nervous atmosphere in the arena; what he attempted to achieve was to disrupt Qi Ling's timing and to gain some recovery time for Jing Jiu.
It wasn't until then that Zhuo Rusui lifted his head up. He looked at the black iron sword by Jing Jiu's side, wondering if the sword had been broken.
The whole Green Mountain knew that Jing Jiu had inherited this sword from Senior Master Mo of Shiyue Peak.
There was nothing special about this sword, save for its breadth.
As Jing Jiu's Cultivation state improved, more and more people thought it was a pity because this sword was not a good fit for him; Zhuo Rusui had the similar opinion.
A fracture appeared on the surface of the black iron sword; and then it gradually expanded.
Seeing this, Zhuo Rusui felt helpless, since he had thought that this sword was not good enough, and it was mostly useless save for the power of the poison on it.
"How dare you point such a useless iron at this old man!" Qi Ling exclaimed while staring into Jing Jiu's eyes.
Without responding to him, Jing Jiu raised the iron sword with his hand again.
An object dropped on the ground.
It was not a section of the sword that dropped after breaking up; rather, it was a patch of rust on the surface of the iron sword that dropped off. It was like a rock crushing to the ground and then breaking into several pieces.
The others wondered if the iron sword would break into pieces itself, just like this rust.
Though Jing Jiu was wounded severely, he somehow didn't show any fear in his countenance. He still pointed his sword at Qi Ling, and the tip of the sword oscillated slightly along with the quivering wrist.
Bai Qianjun figured that Jing Jiu had something else on his mind while displaying such a posture. He was furious, wondering if Jing Jiu intended to taunt the Unicorn. It was really rude to show such a gesture in front of the divine guardian animal of his sect.
Along with the rising and ebbing of the iron sword, more of the black, ugly rusts that had probably accumulated for many years peeled off, exposing some bright patches of the sword.
A gust of wind suddenly rose up, and Jing Jiu's body disappeared instantly from the original spot. He arrived in the sky outside the Tranquil Garden, swayed like a candle in the wind, and then landed on a mountain a mile away.
His movement was peculiar and unpredictable, and at an exceedingly fast speed, and was as swift as the Escape Method of Heaven and Earth of the Center Sect at the highest level.
The group in the Tranquil Garden didn't know about the Underworld Fairy Sword, so they thought how powerful the rumored shapeless inborn Sword Body was.
Xi Yiyun's expression changed a bit, as he recalled that Jing Jiu had displayed this sort of amazing movement in the Illusionary Realm of the Green Sky Mirror.
The expression on Bai Qianjun's face was even more terrible. On the Buzhou Mountain in the Illusionary Realm, he and dozens of swordsmen of Qin State had ended up losing blood like the flowing rivers after being attacked by Jing Jiu employing the same kind of swordplay; how could he forget about it? But he didn't expect Jing Jiu to employ the similar ghostly swordplay in the real world, and it seemed that his swordplay was even more powerful in this world.
The expression in Qi Ling's eyes turned even colder, indicating his anger and lethal intent.
By now he was more certain that Jing Jiu was that figure who had escaped from the Fiend Prison so that he was the person responsible for the death of the Old Dragon!
Amid the whistling wind, Qi Ling disappeared from the original spot; he arrived instantly in the sky over that mountain, and struck his palm toward Jing Jiu's head from above.
Even if it was a dim light, it would not die out so easily amid the violent wind.
Jing Jiu swayed hither and thither. And soon he escaped from the area affected by the wind of Qi Ling's wielding palm, and arrived at a higher elevation in the sky.
Qi Ling had a very formidable prowess. As his palm hit the empty space, he retrieved the force of his palm immediately and crushed it into countless mighty arrows, shooting skyward!
It was just then that a villager outside the Fruit Formation Temple ignited the firecrackers.
Pah!!! Pah!!! Pah!!!
Innumerable cracking sounds of the firecrackers boomed out, overwhelming the exploding sounds of those arrows.
When the people in the Tranquil Garden lifted their heads to look up, all they could see were the shooting stars filling the entire sky and a flash of sword light. Monk Duhai was the only one who could vaguely spot Jing Jiu's figure in the sky; so one could imagine just how fast he was moving at the moment.
Zhuo Rusui still kept his head hung low, as he stared at a wild weed trembling in the crack between two stone slabs. His face was a bit pale, and he wondered when he should look up, or if he should just keep on looking at this weed.
The wind stopped and the flowing clouds halted. As the shooting stars filling the sky vanished, Jing Jiu's figure reappeared; he landed on the ground noiselessly. His white clothing was as white as the pallid clouds.
Qi Ling had also returned to the Tranquil Garden.
Since he was to strike three times, he had only struck once at a time without pursuing his opponent from the very beginning.
Earlier, Qi Ling changed his wielding palm into the shooting stars filling the sky; the act should be counted as a stroke. According to his status and generation, it was in fact an over-the-top act.
But Zhuo Rusui didn't feel so assured about the accepted count. He shouted while looking at the ground, "The second stroke…what the heck?"
He suddenly saw a blur in front of his eyes.
Jing Jiu's feet seemed to have disappeared before him for an instant.
Then, the Tranquil Garden became deathly quiet.
When Zhuo Rusui had his head lowered, a flash of sword light emerged in the Tranquil Garden, followed by a faint cracking noise.
Jing Jiu returned to his original spot, his face pale, indicating he had been injured severely.
But no one looked at Jing Jiu.
It was because everybody was looking at Qi Ling at the moment.
A shallow wound appeared on the corner of Qi Ling's eyebrow, with a tiny blood bead seeping out from it.
Staring into Jing Jiu's eyes, Qi Ling said slowly and tersely, "You…dared…hurt…me!"
Jing Jiu protested, "The proposal is that I'll receive three strokes of your sword; but it doesn't state that I can't counterattack."
Qi Ling indeed didn't expect Jing Jiu to dare and be able to counterattack him under the circumstances. Since he didn't expect Jing Jiu to be so fast that he failed to be prepared for it, he was nicked by Jing Jiu's sword.
However, all of this was not so important; the important thing was that Qi Ling had never imagined that Jing Jiu could actually hurt him.
All of those present in the Tranquil Garden didn't expect this result. Seeing the bead of blood hanging on Qi Ling's eyebrow, they were all stunned so much that they couldn't describe their feelings in precise words.
They wondered why a young man who had cultivated less than thirty years and was in the middle state of Free Travel could hurt the Unicorn.
It was impossible!
Hearing the conversation going on in the arena, Zhuo Rusui was stunned as well.
Even if Qi Ling limited his Cultivation to the Yuanying State, he still had the inborn divine body; how could Jing Jiu injure his body? And what kind of sword did Jing Jiu use to do it?
Zhuo Rusui believed that his own sword had absolutely no probability of achieving such a feat, and neither did most of the sword owners on the nine peaks of Green Mountain. He wondered if Jing Jiu used the Thoughtless Sword.
Monk Duhai knew more secrets than the others. He looked at Jing Jiu and thought that he probably used the Lone Sword that was rumored to be the sharpest sword in the world.
In the vegetable garden, Liu Shisui looked at the agitated and buzzing bracelet on his wrist, wondering what was happening at the Fruit Formation Temple.
Jing Jiu didn't utter another word. He raised the black iron sword in his hand again and pointed it at Qi Ling.
As he was pointing the sword upwards, the rusts on the black iron sword fell down in tandem, exposing the exceedingly bright shaft of the sword.
Seeing the glittering sword, the Monk Duhai could sense the sharpness of it and a mixed energy of desolateness and brutality hidden in it. "What kind of sword is it?" he inquired, astonished.
The expression in Jing Jiu's eyes turned a bit aloof, and his voice was even more desolate, just like the nature of this sword.
"It's the Sword of Universe."
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