Chapter 31 Nine-Headed Dragon Sword Technique
Therefore, Fang Xingjian stepped forth and demonstrated his level 30 Grizzly Bear Sword Technique.
At the start, when the examiners saw that he was only demonstrating a set of basic sword technique from The School of Sword Arts, they did not look surprised.
But as Fang Xingjian’s sword swayed when he channeled the vital energy and blood throughout his whole body, employing his muscles, the longsword cut across the air and brought forth a thunderous buzzing sound. It was as if each movement of his sword was whipping the air, creating explosive sounds.
“Oh? The foundation of this Grizzly Bear Sword Technique is very solid.”
“Although it does not engage the organs, he is already the best amongst those present in terms of the strength originating from his muscles and bones.”
A white-bearded examiner laughed out loud and said, “To think that there is a good seed other than Kaunitz in this year’s Prefectural Selection.”
“Mmm, his grasp of techniques is inferior to Kaunitz’s, but with just this set of the Grizzly Bear Sword Technique and his understanding of engaging his muscles and bones it has already reached the limits one could reach before going through the first transition.”
“Pity, such a pity. If Kaunitz was not around, he would be first.”
Following that, each of the examiners exchanged blows with Fang Xingjian and they all seemed very impressed.
The young examiner threw a glance at Huang Lin who was beside him. When he saw his grading for Fang Xingjian, he got a shock, “My Lord, this score…” He could not understand why he would give Fang Xingjian a higher score than Kaunitz. A perfect score straight off the bat!
Huang Lin shook his head and said, “I’ll tell you after the third stage is over. By then, you guys may all want to amend the scores you’ve given him.”
The young examiner asked a few more questions, but Huang Lin refused to say anything further. This made the former throw a curious glance at Fang Xingjian. He could not understand what was so special about him that would cause Huang Lin to give him such a high score.
However, the two of them had only discussed it softly between themselves, so the rest of the examinees were completely unaware of this.
Just like that, although Fang Xingjian had not performed as well as Kaunitz, he also qualified as one of the top scorers. This situation led to the crowd looking at him in envy.
Kaunitz nodded and thought to himself, ‘He really isn’t too bad. Despite the fact that he isn’t able to control his organs like I am, his grasp on the control of his muscles and bones would not lose to mine. This fellow’s improvement is really swift.
Interesting. For the past few months, I’ve been teaching him a lesson each and every day. Seems like this has aroused his fighting spirit.
But looking at the him right now, he’ll probably need to put in more effort before he can achieve a better grasp on his techniques.’
Eldest Martial Brother Ogden and Second Martial Brother Lambert felt that Fang Xingjian’s Grizzly Sword Technique was very strong, stronger than theirs. However, since even most of the examiners were unable to tell exactly how strong it was, they themselves were, obviously, unable to tell as well. Nor could they realize that Fang Xingjian’s Grizzly Bear Sword Technique had already reached level 30.
However, when Ogden saw Fang Xingjian returning, he still asked, “Fang Xingjian, what’s the level of your Grizzly Bear Sword Technique?” He could not understand how the other party could be so good with only a few months’ practice.
Seeing that Fang Xingjian had fully ignored him, Ogden’s face crumbled, and he started thinking of how to get Kaunitz to deal with Fang Xingjian at a later point in time.
Finally, when the assessments for all eighty participants had ended, the sun was already setting.
Although the second stage had ended, other than people like Fang Xingjian and Kaunitz who had obviously had good results, most of them did not know their own scores, and could only nervously look at the seven examiners.
Huang Lin gave a cough and said, “Alright, this marks the end of the second stage. Before we proceed with the third stage of the assessment, we’ll take you to have your meal.”
They took the group of examinees to the academy’s canteen, where a sumptuous dinner had already been prepared for them. Most of the examinees had not eaten since morning and were already starving.
Fang Xingjian also rubbed his tummy, feeling extremely hungry as he went straight up, grabbed a few plates of food, and started eating. The food at the Royal Academy was obviously much better than the food at The School of Sword Arts. However, other than Fang Xingjian, the rest of the examinees only ate until they were half full before they turned their attention back to the exams.
Fang Xingjian was the only one in the canteen who did not stop stuffing food into his mouth. It had been months since he’d had such a satisfying meal. All this time, he had never been able to have a full meal, yet he’d had to continue with his sword practice. He had truly been starving for food.
One examinee who was near him could not hold it in, and gave him a kind reminder, “Eating too much is bad for digestion, and will make your brain dull. Do you still want to continue participating in the Prefectural Selection?”
Fang Xingjian could not be bothered to care about him. With his appetite, he would not be half full even after eating all of the food on the table before him.
Seeing that he had ended up eating faster, a commoner examinee gave a cold snort and said, “I especially despise those who covet petty gains.”
Fang Xingjian did not bother with those words. His heart was like an iceberg. Only when he recalled the events in Demonic City would he flare up. Moreover, given his physical strength, he was only half full with what he had eaten so far.
When the rest of the people, especially the aristocrats, saw his behavior akin to that of a refugee, they could not help but show gazes full of contempt.
Eldest Martial Brother Ogden and Second Martial Brother Lambert also felt awkward, so they took their plates and sat a few meters away from Fang Xingjian.
In a corner of the canteen, Dick and Hogan sat opposite each other, and the former smiled and said, “I enquired about the situation in the Sword and Saber category. Kaunitz had an overwhelming victory over Fang Xingjian. Hogan, I think you can start to prepare the money for the bet.”
Hogan frowned and replied, feeling slightly impatient, “The bet is not over yet. Why are you in such a rush?”
Dick only said proudly, “I’m not in a rush, but just feeling extremely happy to be able to win a hundred gold from a miser like yourself.”
Hogan glared at him and coldly replied, “The Prefectural Selection is not over yet. It’s still too early to judge.”
“Haha, I’ve already asked around. Fang Xingjian has only learned three sets of basic sword techniques at The School of Sword Arts,” Dick said, as if he was up to no good. “Moreover, over the past few months, he would spar with Kaunitz on their basic sword techniques, but would always end up losing. In the second stage, his overall score could not compare to Kaunitz’s, either.
“Do you really think he still has a chance?”
Seeing Hogan’s surprised expression, Dick smiled, even happier. “The gap between their talent in sword arts is extremely wide. While Fang Xingjian does have the talent to become a Knight, the future awaiting Kaunitz is the second or even third job transition. The two do not belong to the same world.
“Hogan, your insight is still as bad as before, and your temper is still as rash as before, daring me to have a bet with you without even knowing anything. You’d better change your problem of being short-tempered and rash.”
Hogan was so angry that he stood up and turned to leave, not wishing to see Dick’s proud expression any further. When he came across Fang Xingjian who was eating non-stop, he suddenly had doubts, wondering whether he had judged him wrongly.
At that moment, Kaunitz, Barbara and the others were not together. The next stage depended on the individual’s performance, and had nothing to do with other people at all. They each shut their eyes and rested, recovering energy in preparation for the final dash to fight for the first place in the Prefectural Selection.
At that moment, news came from one of the examinees.
“Did you hear? That fellow Robert actually got full marks for the previous stage.”
“What? Full marks?”
“It’s only obvious he would. He already has the abilities of one who has gone through the first transition. It’s entirely normal for him to score full marks in the tests targeted at our age group.”
“This is so unfair. How could they let a Knight take part in the Prefectural Selection with us?”
At the table beside them, Robert revealed a proud grin. However, Kaunitz and the others were frowning.
‘The gap between one who’s already gone through the first transition and one who hasn’t yet is still too big. Since that is the case, the only thing that can be done is to fight for second place, and get more resources after enrolling in the academy.’
Thinking about this, Kaunitz and the others all slowly accumulated their energy, going through the final preparations for the final stage of the exam. They knew more information regarding the top ten positions compared to the other examinees. Although everyone in the top ten was able to qualify as a Knight, the amount of nurturing, resources and attention received by the one in first place and the one in tenth place would be on a different scale altogether.
This was especially so regarding choosing one’s mentor for skills and specialties. The higher the rank, the more advantageous it was for the person. It was like rolling a snowball: a slight difference in rank could result in an increasingly wider gap in power between two people.
After the meal, for the third stage, they still stayed split into the five categories. Those in the Sword and Saber category were brought to a training room the size of a soccer field.
Upon entering, their attention was caught by the countless images on the stone walls of the training room. They represented a man carrying a longsword, demonstrating sword stances. It was a set of sword technique engraved on the stone walls.
Just when everyone was captivated by the drawings of the sword technique on the walls, Huang Lin’s voice rang out.
“There are one hundred and one murals in the north, south, east and west of the room, recording two sets of sword techniques. The third stage’s assessment is very simple. Each of you will simply need to select a set of sword technique and learn it. Anytime before midnight today, all of you please feel free to come and be assessed in the room next door. After midnight, those who have not come for the assessment will be automatically treated as having given up.
“We will determine your results for this stage based on the degree to which you have learned the technique.”
Hearing Huang Lin’s words, everyone present broke into bitter smiles. In order to grasp an ordinary technique, even if there was a teacher to provide step by step guidance, it would take them a few days or even a few weeks to reach level one of the skill.
In order to learn the technique inscribed on the stone walls, an ordinary person would probably take more than a few months. Moreover, the examinees had only slightly more than six hours on hand. Even if each of the examinees here were the cream of the crop, there were still many hurdles before them.
Seeing that most of the people were dejected and despondent, Huang Lin gave them a kind reminder, “We do not expect you to fully master it, but to pick up as much as you can. The main purpose is to assess your talent and learning ability before we assign the ranking accordingly.”
“Therefore, there’s no need to feel downcast. Just do your best.”
After saying his piece, he left with majority of the examiners, assigning a few members of staff to keep an eye on the students and to prevent any cases of cheating, such as contacting people outside or to having discussions amongst themselves.
Kaunitz did not say a single world, but went straight to the first mural and started to study it closely. He thought to himself, ‘With my talent, so long as I take it a step at a time and am able to perform as usual, I will definitely emerge as first in the Sword and Saber category.
‘But to overtake Barbara and the others, and to get a good ranking in the overall assessment, some luck is still needed.’
Just when he was thinking about this, at a glance, he realised that the set of sword technique on the wall was extremely complicated and hard to understand. Even if it was him, it would be unlikely for him to be able to grasp it within six hours.
The other examinees also started to learn, but as they did not know anything about the techniques drawn on the walls, they could only pick one randomly, not knowing which set was tougher and which was easier.
Even when Kaunitz was learning, he could not help but think, ‘Drat it, what are these examiners thinking? To think that they brought out such a difficult set of sword technique.’
Just then, he noticed that someone was already heading for the second wall.
“You must be kidding me!” When he turned his head around, he saw that Fang Xingjian had already glanced over the first wall, and was already headed to the second one.
And in Fang Xingjian’s mind, another line appeared on his Techniques Column.
‘Nine-Headed Dragon Sword Technique (5%)’