Chapter 335 - Sword Formations
"All six sword formations were created by Chief. Some were developed when she was younger while playing games, and others were new discoveries made in recent years. The newest one is less than three months old. It is Chief’s sudden conception that was built only after a long discussion with everybody. Karakorum is different from most training halls. We rarely get involved in concrete battles. You can see us as a training hall that researches on and promotes sword mastery."
Qin Xian stood in front, introducing and guiding the way. He spoke slowly but not imposingly. His voice was refreshing and his elegant demeanor was admirable.
Lian Junyu, who followed behind him, looked at him affectionately.
Ai Hui was absorbed in Qin Xian’s explanation. It was rather different from what was rumored.
"There is a main and an external institution in Karakorum. The main institution is where the teachers do their research on inherited swordplays. We don’t have many of those, and those that we do have are not of a high level, so there’s no need to mention absolute arts. We usually train and ponder over ideas on our own, but we gather once a week to share knowledge and skills. Everyone says whatever they want, so arguments are common. However, no one gets angry since they are all used to it. If anyone has a new idea, he will also gather everybody immediately to discuss it. Karakorum’s sword-related discussions are unique to us and hard to find elsewhere."
Ai Hui raised his eyebrows. "What do you do if there’s any absolute art that you do not wish to divulge?"
Qin Xian smiled. "We will not force it of course, since absolute arts are used to save one’s life. Honestly speaking, our swordsmanship inheritance are still of a lower grade, except for Chief’s, which is slightly higher. As compared to the absolute arts from aristocratic families, we are lagging far behind. We don’t really regard absolute moves or what not as important, but our first swordplay absolute art is taking shape."
Ai Hui was stirred. "How impressive."
Till now, swordsmanship inheritance offered nothing great, and it was needless to talk about absolute arts. If an absolute art can emerge from an swordsmanship inheritance, it will definitely cause a commotion.
Even though swordsmanship had declined, they still had some influence over people. These were the brilliant results accumulated over millions of years and left by the Cultivation Era.
If Karakorum birthed the first ever absolute swordplay, it would indeed live up to its name.
"I’m ashamed to say this, but this was accomplished by Chief’s own efforts. We couldn’t help much at all." Qin Xian felt rather embarrassed. He continued, "The external institution is where swordplays are passed down. Whether a person has a foundation or not, we are willing to impart knowledge to them. If we meet a talented and impoverished person, fees are waived. Most practitioners are taken care of by teachers in the external institution. Teachers in the main institution will go over and give a weekly, four-hour lecture about swordsmanship. They will share information as they please, as a means of contributing to the promotion of swordsmanship.
Ai Hui was in genuine admiration. "Karakorum Sword League is indeed a noble one!"
To judge a person, one must observe what he does and not what he says.
No matter what rumors were said about Karakorum, the fact that Karakorum Sword league could come this far was indeed worthy of respect.
Ai Hui practiced with swords but had never thought about promoting swordsmanship. Even if he did open a training hall that taught swordsmanship, it was merely to conceal his identity. He truly respected Karakorum’s efforts, regardless of their motives, in promoting swordsmanship.
Qin Xian smiled slightly. He’d said so much as he had his own ideas. Chu Zhaoyang was an excellent swordsman. If recruited into the main institution, he could assist them greatly in completing their first swordplay absolute art.
"The sword formations are just ahead."
Six sword formations entered Ai Hui’s field of vision and he couldn’t help but stop in his tracks and open his eyes wide. "Grass swords?"
Karakorum Sword League’s sword formations were completely different from the one he’d arranged.
Each formation was formed by grass swords. Some were inserted into the ground while others were placed in midair. Some of the grass swords cruised like fishes whereas other were faintly discernable. But there was one sword formation, which contained a pure, concentrated sword consciousness that Ai Hui could feel. Some were massive like mountains, some were sharp and harsh, some moved swiftly like wind while others were extremely unpredictable.
Qin Xian said softly, "Deriving the sword formations consume too much materials. Since we can’t afford materials that are too expensive, we might as well use grass swords. The cost is lower and we make them ourselves so that reduces the overall cost even further."
Ai Hui finally realized that the grass swords he’d seen being dried outside the entrance were meant for the sword formations.
Using grass swords to derive a sword formation was indeed a decent idea so Ai Hui was impressed. The sword formation he’d fixed up in the training hall consumed way too much to the point where he’s practically used up all his fortune, evidence that deriving sword formations this way was unsuitable.
Using grass swords could really minimize the production costs. Of course, there were disadvantages of using grass swords, since they wouldn’t be able to withstand too much elemental energy. In that sense, the power of the sword formation was reduced greatly as well.
This was also probably the reason why Karakorum Sword League used these sword formations for training and practicing.
"How do I start?" Ai Hui turned around and asked Qin Xian.
"Stand in the middle of the sword formation. You’ll need to use another grass sword." Qin Xian explained while handing Ai Hui a different sword. "Which sword formation would you like to start with?"
Receiving the sword, Ai Hui felt a sense of familiarity. He’d been using a grass sword for so many years so it was easy for him. "Let’s start from the first one."
Qin Xian nodded. "Okay, you can just step inside anytime and when you’re stationed, the sword formation will be mobilized."
Hearing that, Ai Hui started walking towards the first sword formation.
Many youngsters, upon receiving the news, had gathered around the sword formation. They’d heard that Silverwheel Swordsman, Chu Zhaoyang, was coming to experience the sword formation so all of them rushed over. Swordsmanship hadd been in decline for many years. While it did become a slight trend in recent years, there hadn’t been many famous swordsmen coming out of it. Silverwheel Swordsman was one of the more outstanding practitioners so these young and budding swordsmen had all came to observe.
Qin Xian and Lian Junyu kept their eyes wide open as well since they were both very curious about Chu Zhaoyang’s abilities.
Ai Hui held onto the grass sword and walked into the first formation.
There were thirty-six grass swords inserted into the ground randomly and only half of the sword bodies were above ground. Ai Hui was extremely familiar with sword manuals from the Cultivation Era so he knew immediately, upon seeing the positions of these swords, that the formation had been completed in accordance to the Plum Blossom Numerology.
The Plum Blossom Numerology had been used extensively in swordplays during the Cultivation Era. Many swordplays involved this law, making it one of the staples.
But was the Plum Blossom Numerology functional in the Elemental Ea?
Ai Hui was in doubt but concealed it with his usual expression. He held the sword straight and remained calm.
To the bystanders, holding a sword turned Chu Zhaoyang into a different person. If they were to say that Chu Zhaoyang was the sheath of a treasure sword, now that the treasure sword was unsheathed, his abilities were out there for all to see and there was a cold aura surrounding him, making him seem sharp and dangerous.
Knowing when they saw something good, Qin Xian and Lian Junyu’s eyes lit up.
The students did not say anything but they automatically held their breaths.
A sword chime sounded as one of the grass swords inserted into the ground trembled before flying out.
A sword shadow flashed across the sky.
Without panicking, Ai Hui took a slight step forward and thrust the grass sword in his hands forward cleanly.
Ai Hui’s grass sword hit the sword shadow accurately.
Just then, another sword chime rang from behind him. Without turning around, AI Hui pulled his sword behind his back, and as if there were eyes on his back, he managed to aim and strike the sword shadow precisely.
Clang clang clang. The sword chimes fell incessantly on the ears as the densely packed sword shadows enveloped Ai Hui like a swarm in midair.
Ai Hui appeared unhurried. His sword moves were neither fast nor gaudy and complicated. Each move was simple, practical and accurate.
Lian Junyu couldn’t help but exclaim in surprise, "Such solid swordsmanship."
Qin Xian kept quiet but his eyes said it all. It was obvious when an expert made a move. Ai Hui’s sword moves weren’t at all garish but the more this was the case, the more apparent it became that Ai Hui had a profound understanding of swordsmanship.
Standing in the middle, Ai Hui was trying to grasp the sword formation.
Ai Hui had no idea that the Plum Blossom Numerology could be used this way.
After some handling, the ground beneath his feet was in reality a sword scabbard. Thirty six grass swords were inserted into the same sheath. On normal days, these thirty six swords were placed into the ground for nourishment.
If he guessed correctly, there must be a hidden spring underground which supplied water elemental energy and wood elemental energy.
The Plum Blossom Numerology could be operated together with water elemental energy, producing something marvelous. This was something Ai Hui’d never explored before so he made sure to take note of it. He could impart this to Hua Xiaoyun and get her to mull over it herself.
Cloud Ridge City, where Hua Xiaoyun’s house was located, had already been transformed into scorched earth. Her family was killed in that catastrophe so Ai Hui naturally would not just sit back and watch.
The well-nourished grass swords blended into one another, as if they shared a core.
If Ai Hui had seen such a sword formation in Central Pine City, he definitely would’ve been flustered.
Over the past three years, his elemental energy had been growing slowly because of the blood plum blossom. However, his swordsmanship improved so fast it could be said that he’d become a whole different person.
Ai Hui understood that if the sword formation operated this way, the thirty six grass swords would increase in speed and become increasingly difficult for the center person to handle. In other words, if a swordsman were to get caught up in the sword formation, he would find himself in a troublesome situation if he did not find the key to breaking the sword formation within five minutes.
This excited Ai Hui. He wanted to see how far he could persevere.
Clink clink clink!
The sword shadows became increasingly blurred as the sword chimes in midair started to become loud and clear.
Within the sword formation, the grass sword in Ai Hui’s hands started to blur as well. It struck continuously and forcefully, causing sparks to fly in all directions. Nevertheless, Ai Hui’s body remained steady and motionless like a rock.
Qin Xian checked the time repeatedly. He was well familiar with the sword formation. This sword formation wasn’t difficult to break. It only tested swordsmen’s understanding of the Plum Blossom Numerology. If one understood it, it was relatively easy to break the formation. This formation gave the subject three minutes and once time was up, the swords’ power would rise to an unresistable level. The longer it dragged on, the mightier the grass swords became.
But it’d already been seven minutes and the sword shadows were moving at a speed so fast it was difficult for the naked eye to catch. The sharp, echoing sword whistles were soul-shattering.
Clink clink clink!
The sounds of grass swords crossing paths became louder and higher in pitch.
Boom. A heavy explosion sounded suddenly.
The ground shook and dust filled the air. It was as if the whole sword formation had been torn apart by an invisible hand. Thirty-six grass swords flew all over the place like dried seedlings in a crazy storm.
A figure holding onto a sword walked slowly out from amid the smoke and dust.