NETS - Chapter 197 – Sword Spirituality
Night had fallen by the time Yuan Zhan left Liu Zi-Yuan's cave-dwelling. As the night breeze blew over him, he suddenly felt a chill run down his back.
It wasn’t the cold air that chilled him, it was the trailing fear that still lingered in his heart!
Yuan Zhan would never admit it, but he knew clearly in his heart that he had lost to Lu Ping, ever since his defeat in the side hall competition. He had continued to improve his cultivation base, yet he had lost the confidence to defeat Lu Ping, whose cultivation base was now even stronger than his.
After returning to his cultivation room, Yuan Zhan sat on the futon and meditated quietly for a moment, getting rid of the fear hanging over him. He contemplated silently in the dark room, with no trace of light save for his eyes that flashed eerily in the darkness.
After some time, three message swords flew out from the dark cultivation room. In the shadowed evening of Huang Li Island, three faint golden lights flew through the sky; two headed northwest and the last headed south!
In the sky above Huang Li Island, among the clouds obscuring the starlight, Lu Ping stood atop Auspicious Cloud and quietly surveyed the island. He watched as the three message swords flew out of the cultivation room he was keeping a close eye on.
Lu Ping descended from the clouds and landed on the edge of Huang Li Island.
A fat mouse the size of an ordinary swine, its belly brushing close to the ground, suddenly crawled out from the earth near Yuan Zhan's cultivation room and silently scurried towards the edge of Huang Li Island. Its body shrank as it moved, and by the time it reached Lu Ping, it was only a mere foot long.
Lu Dabao climbed onto Lu Ping's shoulder and squeaked a few times with a helpless expression.
Lu Ping frowned and asked, "He didn’t say a thing? How cautious. Sadly, the message swords couldn’t be stopped. Once intercepted, the swords will break, destroying the messages in them, and the messenger would also be alerted. Huang Li Island is already at the furthest southeast corner of Zhen Ling Sect, further south is Xuan Ling Sect's territory. Interesting…"
Lu Ping looked in the direction of Yuan Zhan's cave-dwelling, then peered northwest at Tian Ling Mountain. His expressionless face didn’t reveal his thoughts. A moment later, he turned and headed for the east.
On the distant sea, a pale-faced young man was standing on the back of a huge sea turtle. Three 300-feet-long sea snakes cavorted playfully around the turtle while also hissing, as if they were reporting something to the young man.
In the sky, a Verdant Luan gave a long cry and swooped down, its body shrinking to a smaller size to land on the young man's shoulder.
The Verdant Luan chirped a few times, bringing a cold smile to Lu Ping's face. He murmured, "Hmph, so there really is something going on!"
Lu Ping was currently at the exact place where Yuan Zhan, Leng Qian, Jiang Zi-Xuan, and Hu Lili had separated. The location wasn’t too far from the monster race sea.
Hu Lili was always planning and staying prepared—she would never do something she wasn’t sure of. So, if what Yuan Zhan said was true, that Hu Lili had voluntarily lured away the monster beasts, then she must have also had an escape plan. Thus, Lu Ping never believed that Hu Lili had fallen.
Other than Dabao, the rest of Lu Ping's spirit pets were released to search for information around the area. The snake trio had wandered around for a whole day, but didn’t see a single Mid or Late Blood Condensation Realm monster beast.
The strongest ones they had come across were only a few Early Blood Condensation Realm monsters who couldn’t communicate properly yet. So, there wasn't any useful information.
The disappearance of Mid and Late Blood Condensation Realm monster beasts in the area alarmed Lu Ping. He didn’t know what the cause could be, did something happen to them or were they planning something big?
Lu Ping waved his hand and put the spirit pets back in his spirit pet pouch. The seawater beneath his feet surged up and covered his body. In the next second, the seawater collapsed back down, and Lu Ping was nowhere to be seen.
After a few moments, a cultivator sped across the sea surface, he had cast some kind of skill that blurred his figure so one could not see his appearance clearly.
As if he had sensed something, the cultivator stopped and spread out his divine sense cautiously to the sides. After finding nothing strange, he shook his head mockingly for being overcautious and continued moving northeast.
Deep underwater, more than a thousand feet behind the cultivator, an underwater current swirled, following him wherever he went.
The [Shapeless Sword Art] had greatly improved Lu Ping's stealth ability, but he still didn't dare to be careless, and relied on his divine sense to follow this suspicious-looking cultivator from a distance.
At this moment, Lu Ping was like a fish swimming in the sea, he felt as though he was back in his most natural state. Suddenly, he recalled Enlightened Master Jin Li's golden carp, formed by the six hundred Sword Spirituality sword lights.
Enlightenment dawned on him. As Lu Ping reached out his hand, the seawater condensed into a water sword.
This water sword was no different from the surrounding seawater; it would undulate with the swell of the waves. Yet it was also very different from the surrounding seawater, as if it had its own consciousness and a sense of boundary that separated itself.
Lu Ping's heart was overjoyed—this was Sword Spirituality. He did not expect to comprehend the realm of Sword Spirituality by chance.
Lu Ping waved his hand and condensed another water sword just like the one before. As he continued to condense more water swords, an array of swords filled his surroundings.
The fifty-fifth water sword condensed lost the spirituality in it and looked out of place within the sword array.
So, it seemed the current limit of his Sword Spirituality was 54 sword lights. Although he was still far from Enlightened Master Jin Li's Sword Spirituality which had 648 sword lights, this was already remarkable progress for him.
Lu Ping waved his hand again and dispersed the sword lights around him. He suppressed his joy and when he looked up to the sea surface again, he couldn’ sense the cultivator he was tracking anymore.
Lu Ping gave a wry smile and floated up to the sea surface. He could not help wondering if his guess was wrong?
"How impressive of you to follow me for such a long time. If your sword intent hadn’t given away a hint of your presence, I wouldn’t have known that I was being followed."
Suddenly, a voice spoke out from the side.
Lu Ping turned around and looked at the speaker, who was exactly the cultivator he was following.
Lu Ping didn’t know how the cultivator covered his tracks. They had then waited quietly for Lu Ping to surface.
Lu Ping smiled bitterly again. Although the state of epiphany enlightened him to attain Sword Spirituality, he had slipped up and was discovered by the cultivator.
A thought flashed through Lu Ping's mind. He did not immediately fight the cultivator, but said seriously, "What are you doing here in the sea?"
"Are you a cultivator from Zhen Ling Sect?" the man asked in a deep voice. His blurred figure took two steps back. Lu Ping sensed the surging energy around the cultivator's body as he stood on guard.
Lu Ping did not answer the question, but said ambiguously, "I have the same purpose as you, aren't you also here for the 'moneybag'?"
Lu Ping wore a pale-faced disguising mask, deliberately changed his voice to speak, and cast the [Spirit Hiding Art] to conceal his cultivation base to the Seventh Layer Blood Condensation Realm.
While Lu Ping spoke, his divine sense hovered around the cultivator. He noticed that the cultivator had slackened when he heard the term 'moneybag', so Lu Ping knew that his guess was right.
The cultivator still asked, "Which sect are you from? Why didn't I know that you’re involved in this operation?"
Snorting coldly, Lu Ping shot him an annoyed look, "An idiot said I was no match for the 'moneybag', plus I have an old grudge against him. Moreover, I'm not the only one looking for trouble. No matter what, I want to see him dead before my eyes."
The cultivator laughed loudly and said with sudden realization, "Could you be Xuan Ling Sect's Zhang Wei-Qing? Am I right? I’ve long heard about the grudges between the two of you. However, Junior Brother Zhang, you’re only in the Seventh Layer. You’re really not a match for the 'moneybag'. No wonder you weren’t recommended for this operation."
Lu Ping had an indignant expression, while in his heart, he suddenly understood many things.
He had always believed that his location has been revealed to the outsiders by the Li father-and-son, but he did not expect Yuan Zhan to also be involved in the matter.
What puzzled him was that he did not remember being at odds with Yuan Zhan at that time.
The cultivator mistook Lu Ping for Xuan Ling Sect's Zhang Wei-Qing, and so Lu Ping naturally took advantage of it.
After that, the cultivator invited Lu Ping to join him in the operation, to which he happily agreed.
But the moment the cultivator turned around, Lu Ping's Verdant Dawn Sword had already stabbed towards the other’s back.
On the other hand, even though the cultivator believed Lu Ping's words, he did not actually let his guard down entirely.
So when Lu Ping stabbed at him from the back, the cultivator had already cast up his aegis energy. The cultivator's blurry figure suddenly froze, and a white mist wrapped around Verdant Dawn Sword.