Chapter 474: Sword Pagodas
Translator: Irene Editor: TYZ, KLKL
Even the slowest reacting person would be able to smell the faint burning smoke in the air. The atmosphere became increasingly tense as market prices for all kinds of resources shot up like unreined wild horses.
The remote and distantly located Lemon Camping Ground had, too, become exceptionally restless.
A few days back, everyone had been shocked by Spear of Heavy Cloud's recruitment of new members. Elementalists who'd seen it felt like their hearts were burning and were unable to keep calm. Watching the positions being filled up made unselected elementalists inevitably impatient.
Everyone was waiting for Sword of Lightning. Why wasn't there any news?
Could it be fake?
People crowded outside the wall daily.
It was said that this area used to be the camp where Ai Hui and his gang had stayed when passing by Lemon Camping Ground on their way to building their city. Everyone called it the inner camp. They looked at the inner camp, waiting laboriously. Clanking sounds could be heard all the time but no one knew what was going on. Some elementalists wanted to fly overhead to see inside.
But when they approached the inner camp a terrifying power locked onto them, its murderous spirit like that of an earth-shattering tsunami, causing them to faint on the spot.
After that, no one dared to try anything funny.
Creak. The main gate of the inner camp opened slowly.
The waiting elementalists, who were bored to death, fell into a daze before snapping out of it. Was it starting? Shadows could be seen shooting by as some people wanted to inform their companions as soon as possible.
Lemon Camping Ground wasn't big to begin with, so everyone received the news quickly.
The door was opening!
Just then, Shi Xueman and the gang appeared, which gave rise to an even bigger commotion. Everyone was more or less certain that it was about to start.
Shi Xueman and the rest rushed over and into the inner camp. They were very curious about the things Ai Hui had prepared. From what they knew about Ai Hui, he only did things he had confidence in.
And this fellow often left people dumbstruck.
Ai Hui saw the results of his hard work and felt deeply moved. He'd been rushing work for a few consecutive days so that even the iron body, which he so often bragged about, felt uncomfortable.
He was doing something that no one else had ever done, so it required a high level of concentration.
He only allowed himself to relax during short breaks. When he was resting, strange thoughts would flash across his mind. For example, he would wonder what Grandmaster An Muda was doing or whether Ye Baiyi would feel awkward if he met Shi Beihai face to face.
With a laugh he threw his attention back onto the construction of his sword pagodas.
He'd been highly focused for a long period of time, so when it all ended, weariness finally swept over him like a tide.
The excitement he felt upon completion surpassed his tiredness. He placed both hands on his waist and looked at his finished product in satisfaction. Shi Xueman, Jiang Wei and the rest came upon hearing the news, so they were all looking at Ai Hui's product, sizing it up in curiosity.
The seven randomly arranged sword pagodas were of different heights. Shorter ones had three layers whereas taller ones had nine. Grass swords were inserted all over the pagodas' bodies, making them looked like hedgehogs. Each sword pagoda emitted a biting cold and dense vital energy, which surged and collided within the inner camp.
Shi Xueman immediately noticed the intricacies of the sword pagodas' positions. She asked, somewhat astonished, "Big Dipper?"
Ai Hui cried out, "Iron Lady's still the most insightful!"
Shi Xueman was already immune to the nickname Ai Hui gave her. She surveyed each sword pagoda slowly. As a Master, she had a much deeper understanding of elemental energy than the others.
She could sense something profound about every sword pagoda. Each sword pagoda possessed a faint, cryptic aura of its own that correlated well with the others. They gave her the illusion that the seven sword pagodas were one.
The rest had their eyes on Ai Hui, waiting for his explanation.
Instead of commenting on his creation he inhaled a deep breath. "Let's start."
Gu Xuan entered the inner camp with the first batch of elementalists. He did not participate in the recruitment test for Spear of Heavy Cloud since he was more interested in joining Sword of Lightning. After witnessing the fire pond test he immediately waited outside the inner camp.
As an outstanding swordsman, patience and the ability to bear difficult situations were necessary qualities.
Swordsmen today no longer had that mighty and influential existence that they enjoyed during the Cultivation Era. Seeking survival within the crevassess was the realest portrayal of a modern swordsman's life.
The teams were already queuing in long lines, looking enviously at those, Gu Xuan included, entering the inner camp.
The hair on Gu Xuan's back stood on end the moment he walked in.
A palpable murderousness enveloped his whole body, as if he was standing among thousands of sword clusters, bright as snow and dense as a forest. Even the wind in the camp felt like cruising, flexible swords that were extremely sharp and erratic.
Sweat covered his back in an instant.
Sitting in a corner, Ai Hui let out a soft cry of surprise as his gaze fell upon Gu Xuan. His eyes lit up.
Walking into the camp was like entering the radius of Big Dipper Sword Pagodas. Swordsmen with high attainments were more sensitive to the aura emitted by these pagodas and hence they would feel a greater threat.
A decent swordsman!
Ai Hui's eyes grew brighter, as if he'd found a terrific treasure. Already discovering a good seedling from the first round of assessment was a good sign!
Gu Xuan was unaware that he was already being watched. He resisted the omnipresent danger and forged ahead.
The test was simple. Test subjects had to walk through the sword pagodas one by one and the more they passed the better their results.
Gu Xuan took a deep breath, and following the crowd he walked toward the first sword pagoda.
The first sword pagoda had only three storeys, the second four and so on.
Other than the differences in number of layers, all seven sword pagodas had the same shape.
The first examinee entered the first pagoda with fear and trepidation as an intense, bone-chilling sound of sword blades rubbing against each other rang from within. Because the sword pagoda was made with many grass swords, each tremble of the swords made the sword pagoda appear to be trembling as well.
It was as if a huge hedgehog was chewing with all its might, which made its body shiver.
Puff! A round shadow flew out from the pagoda door. It was the examinee, who had just passed out.
The uncompassionate verdict echoed throughout the field.
Gu Xuan swallowed his saliva automatically as a fear he rarely experienced surfaced from within his heart. The sight of that unconscious examinee flying out was remarkably alike to seeing a huge hedgehog take up a piece of flesh and chew it over and over again, but to no avail, before disdainfully spitting it out.
This... is a little embarrassing.
The failure of three consecutive examinees caused an uproar among the onlookers. They looked at each other in dismay, their faces distorted and ugly. They'd not expected the test to be easy, but this was simply too difficult.
Three consecutive examinees had been thoroughly defeated without any exception.
Gu Xuan was the fourth contender, and by now his heart was drumming. He took a deep breath in an attempt to calm his nervous heart, which worked as his eyes regained their firmness. Wasn't he here to seek a Path of Master of his own?
These sword pagodas were unusual!
With his head high he stepped into the sword pagoda and the door shut behind him.
Housekeeper Wang was reporting to his master and young master. As Family Head Gong was getting on in years, affairs within the residence were gradually being handed over to the oldest son, Gong Chengxiu. Since young, he'd been regarded as the next family head and was nurtured accordingly in the household. He did not let his father down too. He had a vast circle of friends, was shrewd and adaptable.
The Gong Residence's style of handling issues had been undergoing changes, from its former days of concealing strengths to its gradual reveal in recent years and the transferring of power.
"... I've taken a look at Miss Shi Xueman's combat division. There's nothing for me to say. She's similar to her father, having command of troops, none of which were unwilling. In the past, Jiang Wei and Sang Zhijun were all good seedlings from their respective combat divisions. And now, only a few days after their building expansion, they are already considered out of the ordinary and will definitely become elites in future!"
Family Head Gong and Gong Chengxiu nodded their heads without the least bit of doubt.
Shi Xueman was born into a reputable family and had clearly performed exceptionally in North Sea Division, or else the Elders Guild wouldn't have regarded her as their number one successor. Sang Zhijun and Jiang Wei were also relatively outstanding.
Every city was busy forming their combat divisions. Elementalists who'd ever assumed any post within the Thirteen Divisions were in great demand.
Because of this, Central Pine Faction was also a main point of focus for many people.
The majority of its members had experience in different combat divisions. Such elementalists were scarce and they were regarded as the backbone of Spear of Heavy Cloud. Having Shi Xueman as the division leader made people feel confident in their future.
"As for Ai Hui's Sword of Lightning, I can't seem to grasp its concept. Its name suggests a swordsmen combat division, so could it be like Sky Edge Division? But Sky Edge Division did not start from zero. No one in Sword of Lightning knows the ropes, which is worrisome. We're not yet close so I spared the conversation. I attended to his needs and even decided to offer him additional help, considering we might be able to build a rapport with Shi Xueman for future uses."
"Well done!" Family Head Gong praised. "Ai Hui became a Master at such a young age so it's normal that he's more ambitious. He'll realize, after hitting a wall, that in this world there are many things tougher than being a Master. Money and properties aren't worth the mention."
Gong Chengxiu was about forty years old. He was young and vigorous, his eyes flickering. He smiled. "He's a Lightning Master so perhaps he might produce astonishing results and accomplishments."
At that he burst into laughter and so did Housekeeper Wang.
No one thought highly of Ai Hui's Sword of Lightning.
Of course, Ai Hui's reputation as the first Lightning Master was unerasable, but he had no experience when it came to dealing with a combat division.
People naturally associated it with the current Sky Edge Division. Karakorum Polaris was very similar to Ai Hui's combat division in this aspect, but it wasn't a combat division built completely from scratch after all. There were many seasoned members who'd transferred in from the former Sky Edge Division. These key players were of significant help to Karakorum Polaris and provided a certain level of guarantee in regards to its combat strength.
Yet, Ai Hui was starting from ground zero with no one to assist him.
Since when was handling a combat division so easy?
Housekeeper Wang added, "Remembering Young Master's order, I asked him, before leaving, when he thinks the war is going to start."
Gong Chengxiu was rather interested. "What did he say?"
Housekeeper Wang bent his head, answering, "'When Grandmaster An Muda dies,' he said."
Gong Chengxiu's body shook slightly, his eyes opening wide. Shortly after he commented softly, "He's pretty decent, to be able to have such foresight."
Family Head Gong looked pensively at them.