The World’s Dazzling Talent – Phantom
“Your vast knowledge shows, Constable Ming,” said the Emperor, forcing himself to nod: “Correct, it is Sword Howl, indeed.”
Swords were a weapon, a tool. The more adept a swordsman was, the easier it was for them to imprint their soul in their weapon. Once they fused, the nature of the sword would be set,which would show in battle. As such, swords had always been categorised as Light or Dark since ancient times. Which they tended to was dependent on their wielder.
The concept was called Sword Soul. Whether or not a sword could be classified as a first-rate sword was judged based on that quality. Let us use Mount Hua’s Beyond the Heavens Edge as an example. The blade’s superior sharpness and boldness was its Sword Soul. When combined with Mount Hua’s swordplay, the wielder was practically invincible. As hard as it was to produce a sharp weapon, cultivating Sword Soul was even harder. Many sharp swords never gained a soul before their lifetime expired.
There shouldn’t have been any swords in Zhaixing Hall… yet strangely, a dark and forceful Sword Soul was cultivated there over the last twenty years. I didn’t know the reasons behind it; however, if the Sword Soul inside the hall was to be imbued in a sword, there was no doubt that it would be a frightening Dark Sword.
“Not even I want to bother with this place. I sent people here to clean and tidy the place dozens of times, but all of the maids and eunuchs would foam at the mouth and pass out within less than half an hour. As a result, many people believed that there were ghosts in the palace. I even personally came here with a team. Although the dark aura wasn’t too noticeable, after cleaning for a while, I would be attracted by the Sword Spirit within Zhaixing Hall. I went in, and then… *Sigh*, long-story short, it didn’t work.
I asked many martial arts adepts to help in the past from all over the lands and from orthodox and unorthodox sects. I literally searched the entire world, but the outcome was the same regardless of how many adepts I asked. As if that wasn’t bad enough, all of the adepts who entered the building foamed at the mouth and fell into a coma just as the palace workers did. Finding doctors to treat them was even more tiring than asking them to come to the palace.
Nine years ago, we could hear sword howls coming from this building every night. The howling was akin to a crying ghost. Everybody around the area could hear it, leading to horrified people. Subsequently, I was more anxious and searched for more martial arts adepts. There’s one thing that’s bizarre. The more adepts there were and the more skilled they were, the more prominent the dark aura would be after they left. Additionally, the Sword Howls would last longer. The longest howl ever lasted all night and until the sun came up. Hopeless, I had no choice but to move Directorate of Imperial Observatory in addition to sending the workers around the area off to somewhere else. Needless to say, I had to demand them to keep a lid on it.”
Neither Jin Wangsun nor I commented. The strange phenomenon was genuinely difficult to explicate. If a big deal was made out of it, people in the palace would start claiming the palace was haunted, which would quickly escalate into a scandal. It, therefore, wasn’t surprising that His Majesty was nervous.
Touching my chin whilst thinking, I asked, “Your Majesty, you have countless competent individuals serving you. Why not ask them to clear the place for you?”
“Indeed, I do have men. The issue was that very few people knew the whole story. The Ultimate Three could do it. The problem is that they would damage the late carving on the wall. The text on the wall is of utmost importance to me; I can’t lose it. As for the others, I have asked those who I could.”
Tone worried, the Emperor elaborated, “This doesn’t actually just pertain to the nation’s fate, but is quickly becoming a psychological illness for me. Constable Ming, to tell the truth, I have sent people in search of Hero Shenzhou three times and searched for your patriarch, Ming Huayu six times. Unfortunately, I never found either of them. Few souls can actually ascend Stirring Dreams Rainy Peak. I didn’t dare ask the Ultimate Three to go in search of them in case I offended them. The dilemma is torturing me.”
I couldn’t blame him. The Ultimate Three were assigned to keeping the borders, so they couldn’t be reassigned on whims. If they were withdrawn from the border, we could expect war.
‘The only one who would ignore the unwritten rule would be Yang Shisan, but you have him assigned to toilet cleaning duty.’
“As such, I am seeking your help today! Dazzling Talent will be a contest of who can withstand the Sword Howl and enter the building to view Hero Shenzhou’s late carving and dispel the mystery for me.”
Jin Wangsun and I both responded with silence.
No wonder why he decided it would be a winner-takes-all match. It was a damn set up. If I was to be honest, I was eager to see what Grandmaster carved in the haunted building. In saying that, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that there was something peculiar about the contest. My intuition told me that it wasn’t as simple as it appeared on the surface.
I coughed and prepared to speak, but Jin Wangsun raised his hand all of a sudden: “Your subject shall tackle the challenge without any complaints!”
‘Eh? I was going to ask if I could have three days to think about it, yet you want to go in now?!’
“Oh? If you are volunteering, then I shall permit your attempt now, Wangsun,” cheerfully stated the Emperor, stroking his beard: “However, you need to A-Hu along with you. Now, you cannot allow him to see the carving. I need you to promise me that.”
A-Hu was highly skilled. With him accompanying Jin Wangsun, he had a half-a-job head start. Not surprisingly, he quickly nodded: “Of course, of course, Wangsun promises he will not see anything, replied Jin Wangsun, albeit somewhat baffled.
“May Wangsun ask your reasons for ordering so, though? Is this not a test for us?”
The Emperor laughed: “Oh, it’s nothing major. It’ll just be convenient to have someone carry you if you fall unconscious in there.”
Jin Wangsun: “…”
Two individual’s shattered Zhaixing Hall’s plaque underfoot.
The visitors weren’t afraid. He was the youngest White Prince among the Seven Champion White Princes and possessed unique martial skills. That wasn’t to mention that he had his family heirloom, Golden Crow Moon Eater, with him for the test. As a Sword Soul hid in the building, there was bound to be a weaponry contest. With the blade that had a part in founding the dynasty in hand, he did have the right to act haughtier than others. That also explained why he offered to enter before Ming Feizhen.
Jin Wangsun entered the building together with A-Hu. With every step they took, the floor emitted rustling sounds beneath them. Jin Wangsun was armed with his treasured blade. A-Hu held a lantern. There were two audible sounds as they slowly entered the building: the timber flower creaking beneath them, and the strange cries.
Zhaixing Hall hadn’t been renovated in over two decades. In that time, it bore the harsh weather and snakes, rats and bugs vandalism. As a consequence, the entire building was very fragile. Jin Wangsun and A-Hu were both heavy individuals in their own rights. A-Hu’s heavy weight was self-explanatory, but Jin Wangsun also carried the awfully heavy Golden Crow Moon Eater. That was why every step they took virtually seemed as though they were bringing the building down.
The Sword Howl only sounded more intense the moment Jin Wangsun entered the building. The lantern A-Hu held would dim and brighten in alternating, abrupt and non-fixed fashion. Despite there being no breeze within, Jin Wangsun felt a chill down his spine.
There were too many legends associated with Hero Shenzhou for anyone to keep count of. One of them was his dominant victory over Jin Clan’s ancestor. Numerous generations of Jin Clan had gone by since then, but Hero Shenzhuo was still alive. Living deity? No, he probably genuinely possessed insight beyond what the rest of the world knew of. At least, Jin Wangsun couldn’t help thinking that way.
The two went to the centre of the building. The Sword Howl was no longer sobs, but deafening screaming. The pitch climbed higher and eventually sounded comparable to a flight of birds holding a concert. The snakes, rodents and insects on the ground encroached upon them. Jin Wangsun finally noticed that the snakes and rodents didn’t hibernate in winter owing to the Sword Howls, which kept them excited every day by force. From a certain perspective, the howls fundamentally formed a natural defensive wall. If it wasn’t for their profound internal strength, the howls alone would be enough to force them to flee in surrender.
The interior of the building was pitch-black. There was light, but it didn’t serve any purpose. The floor was essentially snakes, bugs, insects and rodents. Naturally, Jin Wangsun wanted to barf at the sight of them, but they really got on his nerves.
“Enough with the pretence! No matter how profound your internal energy may be, you’re still human; you can’t just turn into a fiend, monster, ghost or whatever it is you’re trying to be! That Mount Daluo asshole happens to be a professional at playing a ghost!”
Jin Wangsun glanced over to A-Hu. The latter responded. He drew Tiger Fang from his back and slashed without a warning.
Jin Wangsun also spun around and slashed. His slash’s ferociousness was akin to a roaring dragon. Golden Crow Moon Eater and Tiger Fang unleashed sparks in the air as they clashed with a loud, yet crisp, impact! The sound of the impact spread from the two of them as the centre. Subsequently, it erased the Sword Howl resonating throughout the building. The sparks and their killing intent also frightened off the snakes, rodents, bugs and insects. The Sword Howl thereby stopped, returning silence to the room.
“Hmph, Mount Daluo is nothing impressive.”
To compare, the Sword Howl was essentially a layer of mist before them. Once they got rid of it, Jin Wangsun spotted what he was after. It was right there in front of him the entire time. The building wasn’t very spacious; it was just built high up. Hero Shenzhou’s carving was on the hall close to the entrance. Jin Wangsun basically only had to look up to see it.
There was a huge white wall. The hole on the roof allowed the moonlight to shine through and light up the entire floor. Indeed, there was text on the wall. The text was carved on in a freestyle fashion. It didn’t stick to any style, thereby giving the impression that every character was written the intent of differentiating itself stylistically. But nevertheless, it was hard to tell which was superior. That was evidence of the writer’s vast knowledge and the depth of comprehension. That would be the only way to explain how the carver was able to carve the text in a variety of styles, yet do so with precise control. Even more astonishing was that he carved the text on the wall using a sword, a feat that was an entire level more difficult.
Jin Wangsun silently admired the text and said, “A-Hu, don’t look. We need to avoid His Majesty finding out and disqualifying me.”
“Yes, Master,” replied A-Hu.
Jin Wangsun focused his gaze on the text and tried to make sense of it.
“Did thou know, the roar of the dragons brought the support of the gods down below the clouds…”
Jin Wangsun still couldn’t make sense of what the text meant after reading to the end. He tied to focus in again.
“There seems to be a swordplay hidden within the text,” Jin Wangsun remarked to himself.
Jin Wagnsun housed a wealth of knowledge in his mind. Hence, he could see what others couldn’t, and so, he quickly noticed what stood out about it. The swordplay hidden within the text was very new. He had never seen it before. As he examined it, his blood suddenly roiled. He felt a Sword Spirit surging up within him, giving him an urge to perform the swordplay engraved. The swordplay occupied every brain cell he had. All of a sudden, he seemingly saw a sword aura thrust toward him out the corner of his eye.
Shocked, Jin Wangsun drew Golden Crow Moon Eater from behind and retaliated with a slash. However, the sword aura was powerful enough to reach a stalemate with him in their clash.
“Who goes th-“
Not even having a chance to finish, the exact same aura struck him again except there were two attacks this time. Jin Wangsun defended again, rotating Golden Crow Moon Eater and deflecting the sword aura.
Jin Wangsun saw a total of three swords, but nobody wielded them. Like arrows, the swords zoomed towards him on both sides. Jin Wangsun used all of his might to defend; however, the number of sword auras assaulting him multiplied over and over again. There were no signs of slowing down. Regardless of how profound Jin Wangsun’s internal energy might’ve been, it was impossible to overcome the insurmountable odds with Golden Crow Moon Eater – not to mention that he didn’t even know who his assailant was.
“Who goes there?! Who are you?!”
Rotating Golden Crow Moon Eater again, Jin Wangsun executed nine moves from nine different sabre styles. Unfortunately, the sword auras continued their assault. Soon enough, he was surrounded by a wave of sword auras.
“C-Could this be the danger of the carvings on the white wall?! Were all of the martial arts adepts defeated by this?” wondered Jin Wangsun.
The sword auras continued to unleash a barrage of attacks similarly to waves to the shore. It was Jin Wangsun with one blade against over thirty swords shot toward him.
Jin Wangsun was faced with his greatest peril ever since setting foot inside. With no time to waste, Jin Wangsun moulded up eighty-percent of his energy. With a slash that emitted a golden ray of light, lighting up the darkness, Jin Wangsun shattered all of the sword auras approaching him! The moment he felt relieved and went to catch his breath, though, more sword auras suddenly spawned.
“What in the world?! Why?! How can a human’s internal energy still exist after twenty years?! What are these sword auras?!” exclaimed Jin Wangsun.
Cornered, Jin Wangsun continued swinging his sabre while yelling, “A-Hu, come to my aid!”
A-Hu was behind Jin Wangsun. But nonetheless, he had no idea how to help him. Jin Wangsun just abruptly called for him, and then started waving his blade around in the air non-stop. What was A-Hu supposed to make of that?
After a few breaths’ time, Jin Wangsun suddenly exclaimed, “Argh,” and then fell on his back. Jin Wangsun’s condition matched the Emperor’s description word for word. Jin Wangsun foamed at the mouth and was in a coma.