"Welcome to the Skyhill Museum of Sabers and Swords. The Skyhill Domain is the largest refining base of melee magical equipment in the Flying Star Sector. The Skyhill Museum of Sabers and Swords is one of the most professional museums in that regard, too. I am your tour guide, and you can call me 'Sword Lady'!"
Three days before the annual Skyhill Sword Seminar, countless tourists and fans had arrived in the Skyhill Domain.
Most of the lovers of melee magical equipment would all take a tour in the well-known Skyhill Museum of Sabers and Swords. For the real lovers, it was even a sort of pilgrimage for them.
The spacious and bright museum was packed with people. Li Yao was pushed along with the crowd and was somewhat dizzy. Thankfully, there was a lovely girl dressed in red, floating in midair with a long sword on her back. She was the virtual tour guide of the museum.
"It is well known that, starting from the collapse of the ancient Cultivation world and the renaissance of human civilization, the refining of sabers and swords in our modern world has gone through four periods. The Aura Sword Hall that we are in represents the first period.
"Ten thousand years ago, modern Cultivation theories were still brewing. Cultivators' understanding of spiritual energy was still very lacking. Most of the Cultivators were in the Refinement Stage. Therefore, aura swords that were driven by high-pressure air currents were born. Please take a look, the most awesome aura swords at the time could compress one standard unit of spiritual gas to one hundredth its size, and when the spiritual gas was unleashed suddenly, the damage could be very impressive. Also, it could work as a jet and bring the Refinement Stage Cultivators who hadn't learned the mysteries of flying into the sky so that they could add height to their attacks, increasing the repertoire of moves.
"Our next stop, the Mechanical Sword Hall, represents the second period.
"Based on the aura swords, the refiners continued researching and finally combined spiritual energy with machines perfectly. All kinds of incredible blades were invented at the time. Theoretical models of chainswords, vibration sabers, as well as quite a lot other melee magical equipment were invented with during the time before they were successfully manufactured later! The melee magical equipment of this period only used spiritual energy as a source to drive the machines and provide revolution, vibration, cutting, and other effects; the spiritual energy was not part of the attack itself.
"We are going to enter the Hall of Compound Swords and Sabers now. Compound blades are also the most frequently-seen solutions for swords and sabers nowadays.
"Compound melee magical equipment usually boasts mechanical attack abilities like chains and vibrating edges. In the meantime, its spiritual energy could be condensed into an aura and attack the enemies directly. The double-attack pattern increases the range of attack significantly and also makes it much more difficult for the enemies to defend.
"Right now, in the Cultivation world, there are many kinds of melee magical equipment that were solely built up by spiritual energy, such as Light Sword and Spiritual Photon Battle Saber. They are the fourth-generation sabers and swords for us. Although there are still many flaws on the restriction models and trigger designs in such weapons right now, the advantages of blades made of pure spiritual energy are revealing themselves. Maybe soon enough, they will become mainstream in the Cultivation world!
"Other than the renowned sabers and swords of modern times, we are also exhibiting tremendous scraps of ancient flying swords. Now, everyone, please follow me to the 'Ancient Sword Hall'."
Li Yao spent the entire morning wandering around in the museum following the 'Sword Lady' and quite enjoyed himself.
After one month and a half's harsh training, it was a long-due relaxation, too.
Yet, as if trying to humiliate him, his stomach started rumbling, in a quite ear-catching fashion.
Many passers-by glanced at him weirdly, and when they noticed his peasant-like clothes, their eyes were even weirder.
Li Yao was not being pretentious; he was merely faced with an embarrassing problem: that he had run out of money.
A month and a half earlier, he could almost be called a millionaire. With the fortune he had looted from Fengyu Ming and the salary that Lei Dalu had paid him, he could've lived a comfortable life for a couple of years if he were an ordinary person.
However, the way Cultivators spent their money was not imaginable for everybody. It was especially so for Li Yao who had been training at the highest standard in preparation for the Skyhill Sword Seminar.
Putting the rent of his training chamber and refining workshop aside, putting the Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures that he used up inside his training chamber aside, putting the strengthening drugs and medications he took every day aside, the specially-made 'Green Water Ointment' alone that he smeared on his hands to improve their sensitivity was costing him almost ten thousand Flying Star dollars on a daily basis!
After pouring millions of Flying Star dollars into it, the final result might be that the sensitivity of his fourth finger was improved by 0.1%.
But he didn't have a second option. One millimeter of difference between two top experts might determine the victory and failure of a match. A 0.1% sensitivity gap might mean the difference between the final 'Sword Master' and someone ranking in the fifties.
Li Yao had carefully studied the videos of the Skyhill Sword Seminars from the previous twenty years. He discovered that every one of the top thirty winners was an experienced refiner; especially those from the renowned sword-forging families, they all had immeasurable skills and were not easy to deal with at all.
The organizers of the Skyhill Sword Seminar did not forbid the previous contestants from joining the match again. Therefore, many of the people he had seen on the videos might be his opponents.
Opportunities were rare to fight against the top experts and the heirs of the noble families. Li Yao had decided to participate in the match in his best state. Thus, he had spent quite a fortune on his training.
It was a respected quality for a Cultivator to spend money fast. If a Cultivator could absorb Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures worth millions within three days without wasting any, then this Cultivator was definitely one of the top experts.
With Li Yao's current capability, he had many ways of earning money. But since the match was drawing near, and also because he had merely been doing rehabilitation training over the last couple of days which did not cost much, he didn't want to waste his time. Instead, he went directly to the Skyhill Domain after making sure that he still had enough money for his daily life.
But since his money was meant to buy Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures, he had little funding to care about his appearance. His clothes were all riddled with holes because of the high-intensity training sessions, but he had to make do with them. It was relieving when he learnt that standard uniforms would be dispatched after the match began. He wouldn't need to worry about his comfortableness at that time.
Should I find an auction agency and sell one or two of my collections?
There were bountiful scraps of ancient magical equipment and rare crystals inside his Cosmos Rings. Taking their value into account, Li Yao was definitely still an out-and-out magnate.
However, refiners all had one occupational disease: Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures that fell into their hands were like their additional body parts, and if they were forced to sell them, it would feel as painful as somebody chopping part of their flesh off.
Li Yao hesitated for a long time. He thought of ten thousand usages for this particular scrap and eventually let go of the idea of selling it.
The next day, the organizer would start the reception work. Standard accommodation and food would be provided for all the contestants. He need not waste his scrap when he was one step close to the final competition.
Let me go out and check if there is any cheap food. I will accept any food as long as it can fill my stomach.
Li Yao rubbed his belly while he was making plans.
Xie Anan was holding in her hand a bamboo book that depicted sword arts which were automatically changing. It was a souvenir of the museum.
Her eyes were wide open, and her cheeks were puffed. She bounced around like a rabbit. Whenever she saw anything interesting, she would immediately dash to a tall girl and exclaim, "Sister Long! Sister Long! Come and look, it's the Heavenly Dragon Sword! We've seen it before in the textbook. I even made a mistake about its structural design during the last exam when it was tested! And now I'm seeing a real one!"
Long Yunxin frowned. She discreetly pinched her companion's bottom and said, not very happily, "Xie Anan. Would you please keep your voice down? You are a student of the Refining Department of Flying Star University anyway. The Xie family is a well-respected one among all the refiner families. Don't act like a farmer who has never seen anything before, alright?"
Xie Anan quickly nodded.
She was neither experienced nor capable enough and could only work as a volunteer of the Skyhill Sword Seminar. She was responsible for the registration work in the beginning and the reception work later.
On the other hand, Long Yunxin came from a very impressive refiner family. Her family was only slightly weaker than the Mo family and the Huangpu family, two of the best sword-forging families that had lasted for hundreds of years.
Long Yunxin had taken part in the Skyhill Sword Seminar last year and got the 21st place. She had been swearing that she would make it to the top ten this year.
The Long family and the Xie family had been friends for generations. Xie Anan had been playing with Long Yunxin since she was a little kid and always listened to her.
However, after only two seconds of silence and obedience, Xie Anan's eyes bulged again. "Sister Long! Sister Long! Look over there! It seems to be Zhou Xiaoyu, the young master of Snowy Sword Village! Such an expert has come to the Skyhill Sword Seminar this year! No, let's go there and ask for his autograph!"
"Come back here!"
Long Yunxin gnashed her teeth, yet she didn't know what to do with her sister, who was a crazy fan of swords and yet only had limited talent in that regard. Her mind was not the sharpest, either. It was already the best she could do to be admitted by the Refining Department of Flying Star University. Having no other choice, she had to shift her attention to the famous swords and people. Every time she saw a refiner who was a minor celebrity, she would exclaim in wild joy, distracting everyone passing by.
"It's just a Zhou Xiaoyu. Not a big shot after all. He was only two places higher than me last year. This year, I'm going to cut, cut, and cut him into eighteen pieces!"
Xie Anan retreated, not entirely happy about it. But her big eyes were still rolling around. Two seconds later, she trembled and almost jumped up. "The mysterious expert!"
Long Yunxin felt that her head was about to explode. She looked at where her confidante was looking at, only to discover that a young man about twenty years old, with messy hair, ragged clothes, and, most eye-catching of all, a pair of big and ridiculous grey gloves, was rubbing his abdomen hard in a way that suggested he might've been starved for years.
Long Yunxin was dazed. "Xie Anan, how could you tell that he is a mysterious expert?"
Before she had even finished her question, Xie Anan had already jumped out!
She had never forgotten the mysterious expert in the virtual registration spot on the Spiritual Nexus a month and a half ago who had passed the test perfectly within only one minute. It never occurred to her that the guy looked exactly the same in reality, only even thinner. She recognized him with just one glance!
She had been one of the staff, and it was inappropriate for her to nose into it back then. But starting tomorrow, she would be one of the receptionists. It would be fairly reasonable for her to know the contestants in advance, wouldn't it?