Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Luojiang Academy was the only academy in Luojiang City that taught students about cultivation. Theories and lectures were a part of cultivation but so was combat practice.
Combat was a heavy component of the Tang Dynasty's Imperial Examination.
For example, Fang Lang's cultivation discipline was sword mastery and it was graded over 100. Theory and combat each took up 50 points.
In the most recent academy examination, Fang Lang scored 47 points for the theoretical assessment and 16 points for combat, making up a total of 63 points.
He was only a third-grade sword disciple back then so the low combat score was justified. He was aware of his shortcomings, and thus worked hard to score well in the theoretical assessment.
The light breeze blew across the green-tiled practice ring. Students faced each other off, showcasing their combat talents.
Blade energy sizzled, spells erupted and vital energy surged.
Fang Lang held the wooden sword and took a bow. Once the formalities were done, his aura changed.
The third-ranking student in Luojiang Academy, Ni Wen!
The most talented common folk student in Luojiang City.
The gap between him and Ni Wen's combat abilities was unknown. The opportunity had come for him to test his skills and the newly-acquired the Sword Draw Technique.
Sensing her opponent's battle spirit, Ni Wen entered her combat state.
Fang Lang had trumped Liu Hao with a single strike. Ni Wen was surprised by his technique—it was quick and merciless. It would have taken years to train.
"Little Wen, be careful."
Fang Lang smirked and palmed the handguard of the wooden sword.
He did not perform the Sword Draw Technique from the get-go.
The explosive technique required a buildup of spiritual sense and the deployment exhausted his reserves.
Therefore, he could only perform it once. In the previous match, Fang Lang had planned to catch Liu Hao unprepared.
The same trick would not work on Ni Wen.
Moreover, this was combat practice. His goal was to learn new skills.
'Switch to the binding partner's cultivation mode,' Fang Lang thought.
In his mind, the System message popped up. 'After switching, you will receive 50% of the binding partner, Ni Wen's cultivation inspiration and cultivation speed. Will you use the 3X Amplification Card?'
'Let's skip the 3X Amplification Card.' Fang Lang did not want to waste the remaining two 3X Amplification Cards.
'Switching successful. Happy cultivating!'
The System was silent after the notification.
Fang Lang secured his grip on the hilt of the wooden sword and in a blink of an eye, he charged forward.
Ni Wen's weapon of choice was a wooden staff.
The staff channeled the energy into spells.
When in combat mode, Ni Wen's shyness abated. She was stern and focused.
With her spiritual sense awakened, the sleeves of her green robe billowed out. She waved the wooden staff and the spiritual energy formed a shapeless barrier before her.
The mentors always warned: in a fight between spells and sword, the spell master must maintain distance from the sword master for survival's sake.
The tactic was often abused by spell disciples.
Unsurprisingly, Fang Lang planned to close the distance between them.
At the start of their combat practice, the mentor who was in charge of Fang Lang's class watched them from afar. His hands were folded within his sleeves.
Mentor Wen was rumored to be an accomplished cultivator from the top academy in Imperial City, Sansheng Academy.
"The 700-ranked Fang Lang defeated Liu Hao in one strike?"
Mentor Wen did not witness the duel but the chatter from the students caught his attention.
Therefore, he kept an eye on Fang Lang and Ni Wen.
'His tactic is correct. A sword master must aim to get within attacking distance of a spell master. Unfortunately, Fang Lang's movements and techniques are average at best and he lacks the combat experience. Ni Wen is the third-ranking student in the academy. Even if she suppresses her cultivation to the fifth grade, Fang Lang won't stand a chance.'
Mentor Wen's eyebrows twitched.
Fang Lang's performance was not awful, but it was mediocre.
Mentor Wen was a bit disappointed.
However, he did not leave right away. He wanted to check out the finishing blow Fang Lang dealt Liu Hao.
As the fight progressed, Mentor Wen was pleasantly surprised by his observations.
Fang Lang's sword-fighting abilities were gradually improving before his eyes.
The intricate details regarding sword mastery that Mentor Wen spoke of in class were being incorporated into Fang Lang's fighting style.
'He's not at Ni Wen's level but he has talent! Interesting. The boy has never shown potential until today. The little genius has been hiding all this while?'
Mentor Wen's mood only improved as he spectated.
"Attack from the bottom left, a strong thrust. Avoid collision with the spiritual energy barrier to conserve energy."
The advice echoed in Fang Lang's ears.
Fang Lang took a moment to internalize the words. A look of understanding crossed his face. With the help of his binding partner's cultivation mode, his body was able to adapt and move accordingly.
A satisfied nod by Mentor Wen, followed by occasional fighting tips.
Fang Lang was sweating buckets as he tried to close in on Ni Wen. The waves of spiritual energy and the barrier protected the girl. Whenever Fang Lang successfully tore down one barrier, Ni Wen would have retreated to a safe distance away.
Despite his struggle, Fang Lang was enjoying the combat practice. After switching cultivation mode, he felt his cultivation inspiration increase.
His sword skills and combat experience benefited greatly from this duel.
Fang Lang's eyes sparkled even as sweat rolled down his face.
He set his foot down and the green tile trembled.
Fang Lang breathed out the stale air.
The wooden sword was sheathed in a flash.
His spiritual sense adjusted. The blowing wind was merged with the blade energy.
His spiritual sense locked onto Ni Wen.
Aware of the danger, Ni Wen gripped her weapon with both hands.
Fang Lang rushed toward the spiritual energy barrier and in the collision, he used the Sword Draw Technique.
The blade sang.
The boy was like the wind, cutting through the falling snow.
From a distance, Mentor Wen had his hands out of his sleeves. He kept silent, not wanting to disturb Fang Lang's rhythm as the boy went on the offensive. Disbelief shone in Mentor Wen's eyes.
'This is a wholly different technique! A far cry from what he has shown before. A masterstroke! It's as if the mediocre strikes before was to set up this final strike.'
The technique Fang Lang performed was top-notch—it was the peak for a sword mastery disciple.
All his energy and focus was concentrated into this single strike, like a blooming flower.
From this sword strike, Mentor Wen could imagine the years of practice the boy endured.
Most importantly, Fang Lang had delivered the blow at a strategic angle. The timing was right!
Mentor Wen no longer had his hands folded. The passing wind ruffled his sleeves.
A distance away, Ni Wen was startled by the Sword Draw Technique.
In the clash, she heard a ripping sound.
Her spiritual energy barrier had been struck down.
Liu Hao's defeat was understandable.
Ni Wen felt her body tense. Her danger sense was triggered and her control over her cultivation slipped.
It broke through the fifth grade and ascended to the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth!
Blood drained from Ni Wen's face.
A faint glow appeared above the wooden staff.
The sleeves of Ni Wen's green robes rippled as a strong wave of spiritual energy shot out like a ring with her as the epicenter.
Fang Lang's attack was dwarfed by the wave. He was forced back a few steps before tumbling onto his butt.
The outburst drew attention.
A ninth-grade spell disciple's show of power would not go unnoticed.
Ni Wen went to Fang Lang's side.
She crouched down and asked, "A-Are you alright? Your attack was strong and… I… I'm sorry, I lost control."
Regret and apprehension were evident from her pale face. Her fingers were white from the death grip on her wooden staff.
Fang Lang answered kindly, "Don't worry. I'm fine. It's not your fault."
Sweat-drenched and exhausted, he still managed to present her a warm smile.
'Ding! The host has engaged in meaningful interactions with the binding partner, Ni Wen, about cultivation. You will receive Spirit Step (Sword Mastery Specialty) as your reward.
'The Spirit Step will be incorporated through mental memory and muscle memory. The ins and outs of the technique will be revealed to the host. Happy cultivating!'
Fang Lang was stunned for a moment. Then, the smile on his face widened.