Chapter 91 – Challenged at Spear Point
At the Ten Thousand Kill Array ashlar square –
Zhu Yan narrowed his eyes towards Lin Ming. Without saying a word, his complexion had returned to normal, but in the glint of those narrow eyes was an icy chill.
Lin Ming and Zhu Yan looked at eachother with outwards indifference. Their conflict would end in combat sooner or later, but Zhu Yan had not thought that the day would be arriving so quickly.
Lan Yunyue was quietly standing in a corner of the sword bamboo grove. She was at a complete loss looking at that incomprehensible number on the Ranking Stone. She looked at the confrontation between Zhu Yan and Lin Ming and was totally confused. How could things come to this…?
Many people in the audience were still shocked silly by the result. By now, the deacon responsible for the Ten Thousand Killing Array opened his mouth and suddenly said, “Lin Ming, congratulations for reaching rank 62 in the Ten Thousand Killing Array. According to the regulations of the Martial House, as soon as you enter into the top 80 rankings among the disciples, you have earned the qualifications to challenge any disciple of the Heavenly Abode. The winner will enter the Heavenly Abode and the loser will be eliminated and enter the Earth Hall.”
The Seven Profound Martial House’s Heavenly Abode had exactly 72 people. These people were there because of their combat prowess, but their strength might not be ordered on the Ten Thousand Killing Array rankings.
Although the Ranking Stone rankings judged the basic strength of an individual, sometimes there existed discrepancies. For instance, specific specialties such as an assassin, who do not excel in the forward rushing fighting style of the Ten Thousand Killing Array. But in terms of killing a human, they can often surpass their ranking to defeat someone.
Therefore the Seven Profound Martial House regulations stipulated that once one entered the top 80 rankings of the Ranking Stone, they obtained the qualifications to challenge a disciple of the Heavenly Abode. Generally speaking, for this challenge, the one most often chosen was the worst ranking person in the Heavenly Abode.
Lin Ming look at the Ranking Stone. On the Ranking Stone, the names of the Heavenly Abode disciples were slightly larger than those of the Earth Hall. It was easy to see that the one worst ranked in the Heavenly Abode was a 17 year old girl named Bai Rongrong, rank 75.
Bai Rongrong just happened to be present during this ranking war. She looked extremely pitiful as she saw Lin Ming turn his eyes on the Ranking Stone. She knew that she had no chance at all facing him. To reach rank 62 in four incense sticks and a breathe of time; even if there were two of her, she had no fancy dreams she could overcome such a monstrously evil genius.
She had to at least symbolically fight him. She just couldn’t throw in the towel and admit defeat. She had to fight him honestly and fairly. She could only hope that this abnormal fellow showed some mercy and wasn’t too ruthless…
Bai Rongrong was self-aware of her own situation; she had already resigned herself to fate.
The eyes of many of those present fell on Bai Rongrong. They all expected that this Bai Rongrong would lose. A girl was able to win sympathy from others, especially this Bai Rongrong who was always diligent in her cultivation. If the one who met such a calamity this time was a boy, chances were that most people would have the feeling of taking pleasure in other’s misfortune.
“Have you decided?” The deacon asked.
“Mmm, I’ve decided.” Lin Ming replied. “I have a question though. Are there any restrictions on the time setting of this challenge?”
“The time is decided yourself, but preferably within a month. If your ranking falls out of the top 80, then you also lose the qualifications to challenge.”
“I see… thank you Deacon Senior Apprentice.”
“You’ve chosen? I need the name to report to the Heavenly Abode elder responsible for these matters.”
“Mmm. I’ve chosen. The time is in one month. As for who…” Lin Ming turned his head. He lifted his spear and pointed it directly at a man who was staring at him with narrowed eyes, “I choose Zhu Yan!”
Everyone who heard this name froze. Especially Bai Rongrong, whose face filled with an incredulous expression of disbelief.
The entire ashlar square fell into absolute silence.
The one this Lin Ming chose was… Zhu Yan!?
Many people at first thought they heard wrong, but looking at who Lin Ming’s spear was pointed at, it was clearly directed at Zhu Yan!
Challenging someone at spear point! This was simply unconcealed provocation!
Ranked 32, Zhu Yan! This Lin Ming just wouldn’t stop astonishing everyone!
“This Lin Ming… he’s just… he’s gone insane!” Murong Zi’s lips twitched. She mumbled, “No… I’m the crazy one. If this Lin Ming is crazy, and he does crazy things and creates crazy miracles, then if he is not crazy, I am crazy.”
Bai Jingyun was also amazed. This Lin Ming was bold! What courage! He was prepared to surpass Zhu Yan in one month!
From 62 to 32, it had to be known that the ranking was exponentially more difficult the higher one went. From 162 to 132 would not be difficult, but from 62 to 32, the hardship would increase by several times!
She had used an entire year to go from 65 to 26.
This growth seemed high, but the truth was it was limited!
Because this year, 20 disciples who had been in front of Bai Jingyun had graduated from the Martial House. So Bai Jingyun had only actually advanced 19 ranks!
“This has become interesting.” Ta Ku said with a wry smile. “I did not come today in vain. This Lin Ming seems to have a grudge with Zhu Yan. Otherwise, why would he aim so high?”
“Mmm, really a horrible relationship. I felt Zhu Yan’s body flash a moment ago with murderous intent, but it was instantly hidden. Lin Ming challenged Zhu Yan at spear point. That in itself was also a kind of provocation.” Ling Sen said. Although that moment when Zhu Yan had broken out in murderous intention was not obvious, Ling Sen was able to sense it from the many years he had spent on the battlefield. He also had his Ashura martial intent, so he was particularly sensitive to murderous intent.
“Zhu Yan is a ruthless person. Although he has an aristocratic background, he is actually someone who sinks his entire heart into diligently cultivating. He is very strong, and not only that, but this kind of person has no lack of ambition. In the future he will probably join the government. Even I have kept several points of attention on him. Now this Lin Ming challenged Zhu Yan, I really want to see!” Ta Ku licked his lips in excitement. He was a subordinate of the army, and would most likely return in the future. It was better for him not to be involved in these struggles.
What would the result be after one month? No one dared to guess.
If it was before, then they would say that Lin Ming was a fool who had bitten off more than he could chew. But at present, Lin Ming had created miracle after miracle, and no one dared to look down on a single hair of his.
“Mmm? What? Lin Ming challenged Zhu Yan? And he challenged him at spear point! Is it possible that he has some enmity with Zhu Yan?” In the Eastern Palace, the Crown Prince had just gotten the news that Lin Ming had challenged Zhu Yan.
“He called out his name and also referred to him by spear point. It really is unusual. Between these two people, there should be some matters.” Muyi also said.
“If there really is a grudge, then my chances just increased. This Zhu Yan is a cousin of my tenth brother. Zhu Yan is already joined together with my tenth brother as one. They share glory, and also defeat. I don’t know what sort of relationship exists between Lin Ming and Zhu Yan. It seems there are some oversights in my information…”
For the matters between Lin Ming and Lan Yunyue, except Lin Xiaodong, few others knew. The intelligence that the Crown Prince collected was mainly about Lin Ming’s background and parental situation, it wasn’t a completely exhaustive report.
Peng! The teacup in the Cloud Prince’s hand was crushed. He had received the sound transmitting talisman at the same time the Crown Prince had.
Naming Zhu Yan in a challenge, referring to him by spear point, this was definitely not a good sign. If there was no hatred between them, why would Lin Ming jump over so many people to find Zhu Yan?
“This Zhu Yan, he’s really making trouble for me!”
The Tenth Prince’s two eyebrows slanted upwards like scimitars and twisted together. Zhu Yan belonged to his mother’s side. About relatives from the wife or mother’s family, generally speaking, regardless if it were a prince or an emperor, they would exclude most from the mother’s side.
Since ancient times, it had been far too common for the wife’s family or mother’s family to take power. For instance, the empress or empress dowager would entrust heavy responsibilities to their family and cause their power to skyrocket. But once their influence inflated, then there would also be conspiracies and plots to control the court. There would be rebellions and plots from the women’s side to seize power.
But, this was a crucial phase for the Cloud Prince in his struggle. Anything that could give him a boost was good. Zhu Yan was a talented person, and the Cloud Prince was willing to let him work as his subordinate, but he would not take Zhu Yan as a trusted follower. Someone like Zhu Yan was simply too ambitious.
“Pass the order; I want Zhu Yan to come see me tonight!” The Tenth Prince wanted to inquire about the reason behind the feud between Zhu Yan and Lin Ming, and see whether he could convert Lin Ming from an enemy into a friend.