Li Yao climbed up the stairs deep inside the Hundred Blade Mountain alone, while he appreciated the splendid views on the hundreds of steep mountains that looked like weapons.
During the Dragon Spring Meeting, most of the mountains in the Purple Pole Sword Sect were open to all the sects in the world. They were supervised by disciples of different levels with the recently produced or excavated marvelous weapons, whose formidability would be demonstrated in the ‘sword testing fields’ on the mountains.
If the Cultivators of other sects were interested in the marvelous weapons, they could negotiate with the Purple Pole Sword Sect more about a purchase.
Of course, flying swords and magical equipment were all items that concerned the user’s life. If the customers did not trust the Purple Pole Sword Sect’s presentation, they could always go to the field and test the sharpness of the weapons in a real battle themselves.
On the hundreds of mountains, Cultivators of various sects wearing fancy clothes, riding fast stallions, and flying their banners were everywhere. The sword and saber auras were spreading out like waves. Noises of weapon collisions echoed nonstop, as if a piece of magnificent battle music was being orchestrated.
The Dragon Spring Meeting this year was different from usual. Getting to the bottom of it, it was a meeting where all the interests of the Cultivators of the Great Qian Dynasty were redistributed now that the new emperor had assumed the throne and the powerful Lead Eunuch Wang Xi had fallen.
The quantity of interests that a sect could get would be decided by the capabilities that they demonstrated at the Dragon Spring Meeting.
Therefore, brutality and bloodthirst were mixed in the magnificent music.
From a lot of mountains, screams were often coming over after a series of metal collisions. Some of the screams even came to an abrupt halt halfway through.
It was not hard to imagine that the screamers did not stop screaming; they just could not scream anymore.
Li Yao observed quite a few ‘sword tests’ as a regular unaffiliated Cultivator. He noticed that they were indeed having life-and-death battles under the pretext of a ‘sword test’ or ‘friendly match’. During the five sword tests, everybody was unleashing their deadliest moves. There were casualties in three of the tests. Those who were not dead were all heavily wounded.
What particularly caught Li Yao’s attention was that, while three sword tests were between the Purple Pole Sword Sect and other sects, the other sword tests were actually conducted by Cultivators of other sects.
The cruelty that they demonstrated during the tests was even more appalling than that demonstrated during the tests between the Purple Pole Sword Sect and other sects. It was like they hated their enemy’s guts and would rather die with their enemy.
If it were any other visitor from the modern Cultivation civilization, they would probably have found themselves perplexed in such a situation. Did everybody not agree to threaten the Purple Pole Sword Sect together there? Why were they fighting their own instead?
However, for Li Yao, who had Ou Yezi’s memories and was essentially an ‘elder of the Hundred Smelting Clan’ in this world of ancient Cultivators, he was not surprised at all.
Refining was the main business of the Hundred Smelting Clan. Naturally, the magical equipment that they produced would be sold to the sects everywhere even including those in other Sectors.
So, the Hundred Smelting Clan had product release meetings and annual special sales similar to the Dragon Spring Meeting but with an even larger scale. Even Cultivators in various other Sectors were sometimes attracted to the events.
During the Hundred Smelting Clan’s magical equipment exhibitions, naturally, the Cultivators of other sects were allowed to test the magical equipment produced by the Hundred Smelting Clan and talk about purchases after they were satisfied.
Every magical equipment exhibition that the Hundred Smelting Clan held, however, always ended up being ‘arena games’ where the Cultivators of other sects fought each other. In the end, as the tradition passed on, the Hundred Smelting Clan simply established a special arena zone where everyone was free to duel.
The arrangement was quite welcomed by the major Cultivation sects at that time. The scale of the arena matches grew larger and larger, and the rules became more and more thorough. Eventually, everybody even forgot that it was part of the magical equipment exhibitions.
It was because sharp contradictions often existed among the sects in the environment that lacked resources and had too many Cultivators. Their grudges might have been too long to be traced after.
The insignificant sects that Li Yao saw in the basin of the Sorcerers’ River could start fighting at the first spark if they had conflicts and grudges.
However, for the big sects such as the Purple Pole Sword Sect and the Grand Mystery Sect that were too gigantic to fall, every action that they took would affect the general picture. Naturally, they could not attack each other with their full strength like the small sects from rural areas. If they wounded each other in such battles, it would be someone else who took all the advantages.
Therefore, after their scale reached a certain level, the Cultivation sects had to abide by certain rules to settle their conflicts so that the competitions would be more formal.
However, there were two tricky problems to make the competitions formal.
Firstly, it was difficult to find justifiable excuses.
Most of the Cultivation sects had some sense of honor. Despite what they actually did, they claimed to be ‘deities’ who focused on training and did not bother the mortal affairs. It seemed inappropriate to fight for the ownership of a port or the monopolization of a trade. If rumor spread, would they be any different from gangsters on the street?
Secondly, even if the two parties agreed with each other on the time, location, and rules of their competition, it was difficult for them to guarantee that the enemy would not play any foul moves or even not acknowledge the result of the competition afterward.
The magical equipment sales such as the Dragon Spring Meeting, on the other hand, resolved the two concerns perfectly.
Firstly, everybody was there for magical equipment, and there was certainly nothing wrong with testing magical equipment, which would act as the life saver for many users, as much as they could. What would the best test be? Of course, a simulation of real battle!
Such simulations naturally entailed dangers like in real battles. Even if someone was accidentally killed, it would be because they were fated to die there. Nobody else was to blame.
Secondly, such meetings were often held by the most powerful local sects, and all the experts of the major sects would participate. With so many spectators, it would be difficult for two sects that were going to settle their conflicts under the name of ‘sword tests’ to play dirty tricks before or during the matches and to refute the result after the matches were over.
It was sort of an ‘unspoken rule’ of the Cultivators.
Anyone or any force that violated the unspoken rule would not be long for the world!
Because of such an unspoken rule, the Dragon Spring Meeting was destined to be much more complicated than a simple magical equipment exhibition. It was a meeting where all the Cultivators resolved their conflicts and redistributed resources once every five years so that peace and harmony could be maintained for the next five years.
The newbies from the sects would also take the great opportunity to show their strength, hoping to rise to fame after a battle!
Fame, fortune, power, and desire were all mixed together. That was the reality of real-life Cultivators!
Almost a hundred Cultivators were around a sword test field up ahead.
At the center of the sword test field was an empyreal swordsman of the Purple Pole Sword Sect. He was sitting cross-legged with his eyes closed, manipulating a crimson flying sword that was dancing rapidly in midair. A fiery trace was left and did not disperse after a long time. Eventually, it turned into four words—Purple Pole Sword Sect—raising a round of exclamations.
“I am Jiang Junai, a disciple of the Wind Blade Alliance at the middle level of the Building Foundation Stage!”
A proud young man in red light armor suddenly leapt into the sword test field. He glanced around arrogantly first before he bowed to the empyreal swordsman sloppily. He asked aloud, “The ‘Red Fire Heart Stabbing Sword’ of your sect is truly extraordinary, but I wonder, is it equally sharp in a real-life battle? I hope to have the opportunity to test the sword!”
“It’s Jiang Junai, an expert from the ‘Eight Mountains State’ who rose in recent years!”
“I’m told that he barely has any equals in the youngest generation at his level!”
The Cultivators around were cheering for him. Some of the female Cultivators were exclaiming in surprise, too. Jiang Junai was even more satisfied, and the brilliance in his eyes grew brighter and brighter.
The empyreal swordsman sitting at the center of the sword test field, however, was like a piece of rotten wood. He merely opened his eyes and eyed Jiang Junai up and down for a moment before saying coldly, “Fellow Cultivator, your Cultivation is too high. In a real-life battle, I’m afraid that I would have to try my best. This sword has only been produced recently, and I cannot yet control it perfectly. As the saying goes, weapons know no mercy. If anybody is accidentally injured, the Purple Pole Sword Sect will not be able to shoulder the criticism of the Wind Blade Alliance and their family!”
“It doesn’t matter!” Jiang Junai blushed. He took out a jade badge and tossed it over. “I have my ‘Exemption Order’ here. The spiritual signatures of my master and the leader of our sect have been stamped on it. I will test the sword with my life. Nobody is to blame if I’m killed!”
The empyreal swordsman picked up Jiang Junai’s Exemption Order. He took out a steel badge from his pocket and threw it toward the challenger, too. “This is the Exemption Order of the Purple Pole Sword Sect, with the signatures of my master and leader on it! If I am too weak and unfortunately killed by my fellow Cultivator, you will take no blame. Instead, the ‘Red Fire Heart Stabbing Sword’ will be given to you as a gift. All fellow Cultivators here will be eyewitnesses!”
“Excellent!” Jiang Junai snatched the empyreal swordsman’s Exemption Order and stuffed it into his pocket without looking at it. His longsword roaring, he declared, “Now that the Exemption Orders have been exchanged, let’s—”
Before he said ‘fight’, the empyreal swordsman who looked like rotten wood suddenly turned into a fiery storm!
Fireworks seemed to be glittering, and a volcano seemed to be erupting. The entire sword test field was covered in redness. The audience felt something flashed in front of their eyes before two items soared into the air.
One of them was the empyreal swordsman’s left arm.
The other was Jiang Junai’s head!
The arm and the head fell to the ground one after the other.
Blood was spurting crazily from the empyreal swordsman’s left shoulder. His face was pale, but he was still expressionless.
There was neither any sign of excruciating pain nor the delight of victory. He simply picked up his broken arm and bowed to the cramping, headless body.
“Thanks for going easy!”
Then, he stepped back to the rest area. Other disciples went up and treated the wound for him.
It was not until this moment that the headless body dropped to the ground. The blood spurting out of the neck left new marks on the sword test field, which was already covered in blood.
Two middle-aged Cultivators in the armor of the Wind Blade Alliance leapt onto the sword test field.
One of them had a pale face and was breathing difficultly. Staring at the empyreal swordsman on the opposite side, he said hoarsely, “It’s indeed an excellent sword! How much is it? The Wind Blade Alliance will take it and offer three times the price to compensate for your broken arm!”
After saying that, the two of them left in silence and depression, one holding the head and the other carrying the headless body.