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Published at 2nd of July 2019 09:38:20 PM
Chapter 27

Chapter 27 – Combustion Talisman
The morning had open skies and brisk clean air . The sun dawned before the fog had dissipated .

This was a vast and expansive land that had been cleared away by QingLu Sword Sect, who left behind a few lofty elms that bristled with leaves .

Although it was said to be at the foot of the ZhongMing Mountain, it was still a considerable distance from the mountain . One could only faintly perceive the majestic alpine shadow behind a thin veil of mist .

The people competing today arrived extra early . Each sect’s disciples were arranged behind a wooden barrier fifteen meters 1 away from the stages . The elders who led the groups sat in the front, while the disciples stood behind them .

From afar, the four enormous rectangular stone platforms were surrounded by an oppressive amount of people . Their apparels and origins were easily recognizable; a glance would be enough to gather which sects they were from .

Another thirty meters away were the Ye City’s residences who arrived even earlier than the sects . When the skies were still dark, they had arrived at the straw canopy that was erected a few days prior, bringing tea and refreshments to occupy a good area on the hillside and waiting with high spirits for the fights to begin .

Despite the crowd, the festival was not at its busiest . Many people wouldn’t watch every fight in the first round of the Flower Picking Festival .

As the host, QingLu Sword Sect sent out a mid-stage Greater Vessel Stage elder for the next few days to oversee the duels at the easternmost viewing platform, as to avoid any unexpected situations .

Duan Chongxuan’s match was not the first . Thus, Yin Biyue and the other two stood behind Xi Ping Peak’s elder, with the other Cang Ya disciples behind them . They observed the people who, a moment ago, leaped onto the four martial arena .

The first two battles were not worthwhile to watch . They were between disciples who were from small, unreputable sects and barely passed the Qi Condensing Stage . As time went by, other than the flames and smoke that the Ye City residents would thrillingly yell praises at, the elders and disciples from the spectator platform were altogether somewhat disinterested . Even the one duel where LianJian Sect fought against QingLu Sword Sect was over in a flash2 because of their disparity in strength .

However, Yin Biyue analyzed the duels quite carefully, especially the QingLu Sword Sect one . He observed how that disciple’s sword move began, his creativity in the situation3, and how he, with one strike, broke LianJian Sect’s ‘Mountain Lake Guard’ . His pacing and movements, along with the angle of his wrist, were all scrutinized by Yin Biyue . Within his mental sea of knowledge4, Yin Biyue inferred the extent to which the same swordsmanship could be used against Zhong Shan, who was in the late-stage of the Breakthrough Stage .

Just then, a disturbance was heard from Bao Pu Zong’s section . The crowd was split in the middle, and a disciple walked out . He faced the sect elder and bowed, not forgetting to also nod to He Lai, who stood behind the elder . The sect elder grinned from ear-to-ear, showing a face full of wrinkles, and patiently instructed him a few words .

When Bao Pu Zong were arriving to Ye City, they were divided into two groups . One group was led by He Lai, and the other group, led by the sect elder, traveled using the sect’s only YunXiao boat . 5

The difference with this group was not whether their cultivation stages were higher than others; rather, it was because they were all either Bao Pu Zong elders’ relatives or disciples who came from noble families . Li Lin was precisely a sect elder’s only son .

The QingLu Sword Sect announcer shouted, “Third martial arena: Cang Ya, Duan Chongxuan versus Bao Pu Zong, Li Lin……” His voice, imbued with core energy, traveled far and wide . The audience immediately began to bustle with excitement .

A few disciples who were previously bored stiff instantly became vigilant .

The moment someone exclaimed, “Duan Chongxuan? From Xi Hua Peak? Sword Saint’s disciple?”, another explained quietly, “Allegedly, this person was admitted to Xi Hua Peak by a letter of recommendation from the Academy Director . The Sword Saint and the Director are good friends, so he had to accept this recommendation… but Duan Chongxuan could only be considered a nominal disciple . ”

Before the asker could even feel a sense of disappointment, another person added, “But tomorrow, you get to see the real Sword Saint disciple on the stage… Look at Cang Ya’s side over there . That white-haired youth is Yin Biyue, who’s under the Sword Saint . He’s the second disciple to use the sword!”

There were also much discussion about the other opponent . Evidently, somebody had heard the name before, “Li Lin? Wasn’t his dad Li Changhong from Bao Pu Zong?” Another had a bitter expression, “To be honest, I’m most afraid of meeting these kind of people . They have too many things to protect themselves with; who knows what they have under their sleeve? They’re still going to win even if the other person’s cultivation is higher!”

There were even better well-informed people, “Wasn’t his mother also born into a noble family?”

From here, there was some snickering, “Didn’t he have a nickname when he was eight, something like ‘HengDuan small overlord6 . ”

There was no doubt that this fight was today’s biggest attraction .

Li Lin leaped onto the arena and scanned around until he locked onto Cang Ya’s section . He pulled up the corner of his lips and smirked . That smirk made people very uncomfortable; beside the arrogance, there was also disdain .

He was no longer the ‘HengDuan small overlord’ . He was eight feet tall, rippling with muscle, and his skin tanned . His appearance initially looked upright, but due to many years of arrogant squinting and disdainful scowling, he became a bit crooked-mouthed and slanted-eyed .

However, his figure was tall and sturdy, and he carried an épée on his back . When this kind of physique stepped onto the martial arena, the condescending glare had a certain intimidation to it .

At this moment, Duan Chongxuan brushed the hem of his robes and nonchalantly walked up the stage .

Today, he was wearing Cang Ya’s standard robe . But unlike other disciples’, the material of his clothing was silky smooth, which was also made with meticulous workmanship . As he walked, the embroidered clouds on his cuffs were as if a luxuriant glow meandered around him . With a jade crest binding up his hair and a silver pouch hanging from his girdle, he looked broad-shouldered and narrow-waisted, tall and lean .

This kind of aloof gracefulness, when placed between Yin Biyue and Luo Mingchuan, was not particularly remarkable .

Yet when he stood opposite to Li Lin, it became more apparent— like the difference between the clouds and dirt .

The very first ones who went crazy was LianJian Zong’s female cultivators; some of these bold and audacious ladies even started screaming . Only when LianJian Zong’s elder turned around to glare at them did they sober up and realize they were being disgraceful . However, they still whispered to each other with blushing faces .

“Where is he from?”

“How many people are in his family?”

“Was he ever engaged?”

Yin Biyue was speechless .

Don’t tell me I got it wrong? Duan Chatterbox was actually the protagonist? Look at this halo effect the moment he appeared—

Or was it that the worldview7 of LianJian people only boiled down to the face?

On the platform, the two greeted each other; Li Lin was a bit perfunctory, yet Duan Chongxuan’s greeting was meticulously proper8 .

He then stood up straight, opened his fan with one finger, and said, “ Please enlighten me, fellow cultivator . 9”

The same as when he made way for Bao Pu Zong in PanLong District .

This kind of magnaminty clearly fueled Lian Jian’s female cultivators to be even more ecstatic . However, it was not looked well upon by the upright, seated elders . The cultivation stages between the two were similar; it was unwise to allow the other person to make the first move . It couldn’t be considered as confident anymore; rather it was arrogant .

Bao Pu Zong disciples sizzled .

Li Lin did not speak . He wasn’t stupid . He wouldn’t decline the opportunity because of manners . On the contrary, he felt Duan Chongxuan’s action was laughable .

Thus he drew his sword and directly cleaved at him .

A bolt of golden light flashed on the arena .

It was a thousand-pound10 épée . The blade was carved with intricate talismanic writings and arrays . Roused by the flow of core energy, it twinkled with eye-piercing brilliance enough to increase its attack power by thirty percent .

His move was unpretentious with no flamboyant tricks, only the effortful charge of his extensive core energy .

Below the stage, there was someone who knew his stuff, cried out in surprise, “Sure enough, it’s the real deal!”

Casting such a sword required at least five years of blood and sweat from two Lesser Vessel Stage or above sword-smiths and an array talisman master . It could be seen how fond Li Changhong was of his only son and how high the hopes he harbored for him .

The female cultivators of LianJian Zong already had their breaths held . It was as though the youth on the stage, who the sword was pointed at, was their closest companion, someone who was family or a old friend .

Suddenly, Yin Biyue was a little worried .

Now that he thought about it, he had never seen Chatterbox cultivate before . If he himself was the one who faced this sword, he wouldn’t take it head-on; the best way was to use Frigid Water Sword’s third form: turning defense to offense .

No, that wasn’t right . He simply wouldn’t allow Li Lin to attack first!

Faced with this kind of deadly move, the best method was to be quicker than the opponent .

Not just Yin Biyue, many others thought the same: if it was me, how would I receive this move?

However, they did not expect that in front of Duan Chongxuan materialized a flaming wall!

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“He’s a spiritual cultivator?! What kind of technique was that? How fast!”

“No… there were no incantation gestures; not even a little core energy was used!”

A sharp-eyed person cried out, “It’s not a technique; it’s a combustion talisman!”

“Combustion talisman?! It’s actually an combustion talisman?!”

Yin Biyue relaxed .

He knew about Duan Chongxuan having the combustion talisman . During their journey here, Duan Chatterbox even used a combustion talisman to clean out a cave . It was easy to use since it was dustless and smokeless .

At first, he was shocked, even though the flames at the time were not as big .

In the ‘All-Saints Era’, cultivators who used talismans were as common as meditating . At the time, one talisman’s power could blast open mountains and split boulders .

But after millions of years, in the ‘End of Dharma Era’, nobody inherited the method of creating a talisman . Until now, cultivators who mastered the talismanic array could, at most, engrave talismanic words onto weapons . However, it was far from condensing vast amount of force onto a thin piece of talismanic paper .

Occasionally, one would be taken from an ancient ruin and sold on the black market . Even if the power of the talismanic paper had already dispersed, its value would still be hyped to pricelessness .

So, even if people saw it with their own eyes, many still wouldn’t want to believe it really was a combustion talisman .

Li Lin pulled out a black shield from his ‘Qian Kun11 Sleeve’ and dissipated the flame . Immediate fissuring appeared on the shield . He didn’t hesitate and went straight for another attack! In the golden light appeared a lineation of a eight-trigram battle array! It pressed directly onto Duan Chongxuan!!

In the midst of the crowd, somebody cried, “Bao Pu’s BaGua12 move!”

Bao Pu Zong’s elder smiled slightly .

He recognized the combustion talisman . But what of it? Using his precious talisman on the first round, he was either incompetent or stupid . Regardless, there was nothing to worry about . It wasn’t as if he could pull out a second one or a third one .

Then his smile froze .

Because between Duan Chongxuan’s fingertips appeared a slightly yellowed talismanic paper, flaunting in the summer breeze .

The blazing fire rose yet again! Skyrocketing up!

Li Lin’s sword power was engulfed instantly by the raging inferno .

This time, Duan Chongxuan’s movement slowed down, enough for everyone to see clearly . The audience immediately went berserk .

“It’s really a combustion talisman! He had two combustion talisman!”

“God knows!13 This kind of thing must be so expensive!”

“Three thousand gold, eight hundred spiritual jade, sixty-three kilograms14 of pearls from the East Sea, a villa with fantastic fengshui15…”

Li Lin disbelievingly opened his eyes wider . He also had a talisman, which was given to him by his father as a backup . Who would’ve thought the moment this person went up the stage, he would use up two of them .

The inferno was already up against his face!

Without the slightest hesitation, he hurled out a giant bell!

“HunYaMu bell… tsk, that’s a good one…”

Yet the combustion talisman came first, so this rare defensive dharmanic instrument did not cause much of a stir .

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Beside feeling hurt, Li Lin was more furious! Having a generous amount of dharmanic instruments was supposed to be his biggest advantage .

But he wouldn’t believe Duan Chongxuan had another talisman! The moment Duan Chongxuan exhausted all of his talismans will be the moment he cleaved down with his sword!

The golden light from his attack reflected his blood-red eyes . He was already panicking16 .

As a result, the scene above repeated itself .

Every time Li Lin’s attack came, Duan Chongxuan would casually throw out a talisman, dissipating the attack and deteriorating one of the opponent’s dharmanic instrument .

The audience went from astonishment to speechless .

Cang Ya disciples and LianJian Zong’s female cultivators all forgot to speak . Even Bao Pu Zong forgot to curse .

From afar, Ye City’s populace watched the soaring fires . Their praises were louder than the previous .

The QingLu Sword Sect elder, who was in mid-stage Greater Vessel Stage, started to count with his fingers in rapt attention . His face suddenly turned white!

The battles at the three other arenas had already ended unbeknowingly with no announcement .

Both on and off the arena, everyone gaped at the seemingly endless amount of combustion talismans!

The intensive inferno materialized over and over!

Li Lin, who faced the massive fires, became angrier and angrier!

The blaze surged forward, and Li Lin grasped his sword to swiftly evade!

However, he was already too late . The raging flames had chased up his sword tip, whirling upward the blade!

His attacks rapidly consumed his core energy, while his dharmanic instruments were damaged unceasingly by the combustion talisman .

Yet, he already lost any kind of reason!

Only when a screen of water appeared before him did he realize he threw a water talisman the moment before .

It was a backup given to him by his father . His last dharmanic instrument .

He raised his eyes and saw Duan Chongxuan fluttering his fan, smiling softly .

As if doused with freezing water, he bluntly realized every inch of his veins were in agony . Because of the incessant attacks, his core energy was already depleted . If he kept going, there would be damage to his veins and core17 .

The roaring fire resurged and burned Li Lin to the point where he tumbled off the platform .

The Bao Pu Zong disciples, who were furious out of their minds, reacted and hollered, “The arena’s for fighting! To only rely on talismanic paper! Simply shameless! Such a disgrace!”

If they were the ones who used dharmanic instruments to take down others, then the scene would definitely be them flaunting their own sect’s profound heritage . However, when this kind of approach was used against them, then do they feel the incomparable sullenness .

Duan Chongxuan lightly smiled .

The lofty elm beside the platform rustled softly in the breeze, and the fragmented shade of the foliage spilled onto his body .

It seemed like there was no fight at all—no golden lights nor raging flames . Only an elegant and charming prince whose smile was of the moonlight and the breath of the wind .

He grinned and asked, “How could this person be worthy enough for me to attack?”

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Before Cang Ya disciples could shout praises, LianJian Zong was first to erupt with cheers!

“Duan shixiong! Duan shixiong!!”

“Duan shixiong look over here!”

“Is Duan shixiong already engaged?!”

This time, even LianJian elder’s sharp glare could not suppress the craziness that was happening .

Many years later, Duan Chongxuan would become a powerful-figure .

This kind of ‘playful’ fight also was recorded in the history books . It used the four words ‘thinking outside the box’17 .

However at the time, there was no such euphemistic and commendational description . Most people under ZhongMing Mountain and those who were in Ye City, when discussing this battle, would say ‘unfathomable’, ‘was it true’, and also… . ‘too rich’ .

Duan Chongxuan… established a new kind of combat in the Flower Picking Festival .

1) 丈 (zhang): 10 Chinese feet; 3 . 3m

2) 一盏茶的功夫 (in the time that it takes to drink tea): Around 10 minutes . I translated it as ‘in a flash’ since it is more well-known .

3) Comes from 剑走偏锋 which means that one do not follow the convention, instead finding some new and different way of solving the problem .

4) 识海 (mental sea of knowledge): Basically ‘mental space’ .

5) 云霄飞舟 (YunXiao boat): A literal translation would be YunXiao fast boat .

6) 横断山小霸王: A literal translation would be small overlord of the HengDuan mountain . Small overlord also be interpreted as a bully .

7) 三观 (worldview): The combination of the outlook on the world, life, and your values .

8) 滴水不漏: I translated as meticulously proper but it is an idiom that is translated as ‘not one drop of water can leak out’ .

9) 请道友赐教 (Please enlighten me, fellow cultivator): Literal translation would be ‘please bestow teachings to me, cultivator friend’ . It basically means to let the other opponent go first .

10) 千斤 (a thousand jin): one jin is around 500g .

11) Qian Kun (乾坤) represent yin and yang, heaven and earth, the universe .

12) BaGua (八卦) is the eight divinatory trigrams of the Book of Changes .

13) 天道在上: I translated as ‘God knows’ but 天道 (tian dao) is the heavenly law or natural law . Akin to ‘oh my god’ .

14) 七十斛 was the original . One 斛 (hu) is equal to five 斗 (dou) . One 斗 (dou) is equal to 30 斤 (jin) . And then you calculate it from there 0 . 0

15) 风水 (fengshui): Chinese geomancy . It’s literally just if the place is going to have good luck or bad luck .

16) 乱了阵脚: Literal translation is the ‘formation of soldiers in battle is in disorder’ . I just translated the meaning, which is ‘panicked’ .

17) 不拘一格: It’s translated as ‘not stick to one pattern’ – I just translated it into ‘thinking outside the box’ since it’s four words and a common used idiom .

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