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    Chapter 213: The Battle of Dragon Mountain

    Though Venerable Changying had long passed away, his portraits were still widely circulated in scrolls and an awe-inspiring jade statue of the first sect leader was enshrined in Confucian Wind Sect's Hall of Ancestors. Thus, Ye Wangxi instantly recognized the figure: "Si, quickly open the barrier! You can't defeat him!"

    Of course, he couldn't...

    Who could?

    Even the mightiest grandmaster in the cultivation world, Chu Wanning, would likely struggle to secure victory against this foe.

    Nan Gongsi was trembling, but not from fear. It was a profound sorrow and fury—Grand Supreme Leader... Xu Shuanglin had turned the remains of Grand Supreme Leader into a precious chess piece!

    Madness...

    Pure madness!

    That was their ancestor, the soul and foundation of the Confucian Wind Sect, revered by generations of disciples and descendants as a deity.

    It was none other than Nangong Changying!

    Nan Gongsi's neck cords pulsated visibly as he let out an incredibly distorted roar, akin to a tiger's howl in the mountains: "Xu Shuanglin!! ...No, Nan Gongxu!!! Come out!! Come out!!"

    The echoes lingered like vultures circling, refusing to dissipate.

    There was no reply. Of course, Xu Shuanglin wouldn't come out.

    The only response came from Nan Gong Changying, whose eyes were bound by silk. He turned his head slightly and drew his sword from its scabbard with his pale fingers, the burial treasure sword radiating with dragon-like light.

    He took another slow step down, sword in hand.

    In contrast, Nan Gongsi stepped back, muttering, "Grand Sect Leader..."

    Nan Gong Changying moved with a steady gait, the tip of his sword scratching against the jade steps with a piercing sound. His sight was obscured by the silk, tied to him by magic after death, making it impossible for him to see the path ahead. He relied solely on sound and scent to determine Nan Gongsi's location.

    "Who are you?"

    Suddenly, a deep, ethereal voice rang out.

    It was Nan Gong Changying who spoke!

    "Why have you trespassed here?"

    The mere fact that an ancestor from hundreds of years ago was speaking, even if he were but a precious chess piece, was immensely astounding.

    Nan Gongsi swallowed his saliva and began, "Sect Grandmaster, I..."

    "..."

    He suddenly released his grip on the long sword and knelt on the ground, bowing deeply. "This humble descendant, Nan Gongsi, seventh-generation direct lineage of the Confucian Wind Sect, pays his respects."

    "Seventh Generation... Si..." Changying's lifeless body numbly repeated these words, then shook his head. Raising his sword, he ascended, uttering only one word, "Slay."

    Swords clash!

    In the exchange of a single blow with Nan Gongsi, he felt a numbing ache in his arm. The power of his senior was astonishingly great, and as a deathly pale face drew near, his breath was like frost.

    "Interlopers, shall be slain."

    "Great Sect Master!"

    Swords clashed in a mesmerizing dance, each strike displaying breathtaking ferocity. The clanging of metal against metal sent sparks flying like fireworks, while flashes of light resembled a flurry of snowflakes.

    Xue Zhengyong slammed his fist onto the barrier, his voice trembling with disbelief, "Are you mad? How could anyone possibly defeat him?"

    Who didn't know of Nan Gong Changying's prowess? Rumor had it that his strength was immense; he could shatter rocks into fragments with a single unarmed blow.

    To confront him?

    It would likely take more than ten Nan Gongsi for their ancestors to consider it a worthwhile challenge.

    Nan Gongsi's mind was nearly blank; he could never have imagined that one day he would be dueling the founding master of the Confucian Wind Sect on Dragon Mountain. With their swords clashing in the first blow, he was forcefully pushed back ten feet away. Had he not promptly propped himself up with his sword, he might have already been kneeling in the weeds.

    Nan Gongchangying raised his treasured sword and slowly advanced once more.

    He repeated the command in a deep voice, "Kill..."

    Outside the barrier, Xue Zhengyong angrily pounded against the membrane. Jiang Xi knitted his brows and remained silent, while Master Ma simply covered his eyes, muttering "Oh, oh" in fear. Huang Xiaoyue secretly felt both alarmed and relieved—thankfully, he hadn't captured Nan Gongsi back then. If he had brought Nan Gongsi alone to Dragon Mountain, it would likely be him facing the founding master of the Confucian Wind Sect now.

    Only Chu Wanning stared intently at Nan Gongchangying's actions, sensing that something was off—very off.

    Who was Nan Gong Changying?

    One only had to look at the two demonic beasts he had subdued: a Dark Dragon and Gun, both ancient evil creatures. The terror of this man's spiritual power spoke for itself. Even though his soul had long left his body, leaving behind only an empty shell that could not execute many spells, his combat skills should remain unaffected.

    So, how formidable were Nan Gong Changying's fighting techniques?

    Near Dongji Feihua Island, there was a remnant that the Confucian Wind Sect proudly showcased—a lake within an island.

    The lake wasn't particularly large, nor was it small. It was still water without any magnificent scenery. Walking leisurely around its perimeter would take about half an hour.

    However, everyone knew that this lake wasn't always a lake. It used to be a small hill. Back then, during Nan Gong Changying's fierce battle with Gun, the latter repeatedly hid behind this hill to evade attacks. In the heat of the fight, Nan Gong Changying struck the rocks with over ten consecutive punches. With the final blow, he shattered the hundred-foot-tall boulder, causing the earth to crumble, mountains to collapse, and a pool to form from accumulated rainwater. That was how this lake came to exist.

    Therefore, it wasn't that Chu Wanning underestimated Nan Gong Si, but he believed that when Nan Gong Changying's first sword clashed with Nan Gong Si's, the latter should have been sent flying a hundred feet away, with no chance of getting back up.

    There was something suspicious about this corpse.

    Chu Wanning's gaze swept across every inch of Nan Gong Changying's flesh and bone like a sharp blade of snow.

    Suddenly, his keen eyes focused on the arm holding the sword. He paused, a spark igniting in his mind as he abruptly realized what was amiss.

    Over there, Nan Gongsi was struggling to prop himself up with his sword, swaying unsteadily on his feet. Like his wolfhound, he could be defeated but would never flee. He fiercely wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth and was about to resume fighting when he heard a familiar voice behind him: "Strike to his left. His left arm's meridians have been severed."

    "Master Chu?"

    "Stay focused," Chu Wanning stood outside the barrier, his brown eyes fixed on the two engaged in combat. "Even if Nan Gongchang is missing an arm, you can't let your guard down."

    Upon hearing Chu Wanning's words, several sect leaders turned their attention to Gongchang's left arm. Indeed, they noticed that the corpse's left limb was limp and powerless. Xue Zhengyong exclaimed, "Did someone sever Gongchang's Sect Leader's meridians after his death?! Who did it?"

    ...

    No one replied.

    But those like Ye Wangxi, who knew Gongchang's life story well, quickly grasped the truth.

    Who could have done it? In this world, who would sever his meridians, and who would be capable of such an act?

    As Nan Gongsi clashed with Nan Gongchang, he stared intently at his ancestor's face, identical to the jade carving in the Ancestral Hall. It was as if Nan Gongchang were still alive, never having faced death.

    If he were truly alive, if he had not truly perished, if these hundreds of years could be erased, then was he now undergoing the test of the first Sect Leader, enduring his trials, receiving his guidance?

    "Come here, Nai Baijin!" Nan Gongsi's senses gradually returned to his body. He sternly called out to the demonic wolf, vaulted onto its back, and fixated on Zhenyang Sect Leader's left arm, preparing to launch a swift attack.

    A childhood memory flashed before his eyes.

    He stood before the magnificent jade statue in the Ancestors' Hall, tilting his head to gaze at the sculpture of the founding sect leader.

    Children always had peculiar perspectives. Turning to Rong Yan, he said, "Mother, this statue isn't well-made."

    "What's wrong with it?" Rong Yan, dressed in luxurious robes, covered her mouth with a handkerchief as she coughed softly, then strolled to her child's side. She looked up at the statue of Zhenyang Sect Leader, "Isn't it excellent? Every detail is lifelike and precise."

    "I... don't understand."

    Rong Yan sighed. Impatient by nature, she wished to cram into her son's head in two years what others might learn in two decades, "It means the statue is carved to resemble a living person, with every detail vividly portrayed. Didn't I teach you these terms last time?"

    Nan Gongsi pouted, "But it's carved wrongly."

    "In what way?"

    "Look, Mother." He pointed at the founding sect leader's left arm, then at the right one, "The left arm is thicker than the right by a circle. I've been staring at it for a long time, and it's definitely uneven – not symmetrical at all. It's wrong, wrong!"

    He raised his arms to show Rong Yan, earnestly explaining his reasoning to his mother, "My arms are the same thickness on both sides, just like Mother's and Father's… So this statue is wrong, let's ask the craftsman to make a new one!"

    Rong Yan shook her head, saying, "It's not the craftsman's mistake. The Grand Supreme Elder's left and right arms were slightly different to begin with."

    "Why? Was it a birth defect?"

    "Of course not," Rong Yan replied. "The Grand Supreme Elder was left-handed, so his left arm is much stronger than his right. Over time, his left side became more muscular. Therefore, the craftsman who made this statue didn't make a mistake but was actually very attentive to detail."

    "Clang!"

    Their long blades clashed, and Nan Gongsi and Nan Gong Changying stood face to face, their weapons separating them only by sparks flying in the air as they gritted their teeth against each other.

    Nan Gong Changying, without his dominant left hand, fought against Nan Gongsi, who was wounded but still mustered his last bit of strength. It was a brutal melee.

    Xue Zhengyong had an idea that made him gasp, "Could it be… Could he have cut off his own left arm?!"

    In fact, many spectators outside the barrier were also beginning to entertain this speculation:

    Starting from the senior disciples of the Confucian Wind Sect, their eyes were covered with silk ribbons infused with spiritual energy after burial. Was it really just for the purpose of "riding a crane to soar through the skies, gazing at the clouds"?

    Could it be that Nangong Changying had foreseen the hundred years of mortal turmoil and the transformation of the world?

    That's why, when he established the Confucian Wind Sect, he had already envisaged its inevitable sunset. He blinded each disciple laid to rest so they couldn't unleash their maximum combat strength and wreak havoc upon the world.

    That's why the divine weapon that accompanied him throughout his life was not within his coffin; he held only a long sword.

    And that's why, before his death, he severed all the meridians in his left arm. Even if an unrighteous person were to misuse his corpse in the future, they would never gain access to his full power.

    But the truth remained elusive.

    After a dozen exchanges, as the battle intensified, Nan Gongsi caught a glimpse of the Grand Supreme Elder's slightly furrowed brow. He muttered, "Nangong... Si... the seventh generation..."

    Outside the barrier, Mo Ran intently watched Nangong Changying's every move. As the Immortal Emperor, his perspective differed from all the righteous figures present. He could precisely perceive things that those unfamiliar with the Chess of Jūnlóng might not immediately detect.

    To Mo Ran, this corpse seemed distinct from the others. It appeared to be struggling, regaining its former consciousness.

    This was what Mo Ran had previously worried about – although the Chess of Jūnlóng was one of the three forbidden arts, no spell in the world was perfect. If a person's willpower was exceptionally strong, the caster would have to continuously channel spiritual energy to suppress the chess piece's resistance.

    Once the caster's supply of spiritual energy dwindled, the Jūnlóng chess piece would go berserk and lose control, sometimes even turning against the caster. This was why many past masters of the Chess of Jūnlóng had suddenly fallen ill or died from reversed meridians.

    Mo Ran's face burned with intensity, his gaze fixated on Nangong Changying's every move.

    He could almost certainty conclude that Xu Shuanglin was unable to exert total control over Nangong Changying.

    "Bang!"

    A sudden thud caused Mo Ran's fingers, pressed against the barrier, to clench tightly, veins bulging from the strain.

    The disparity in strength was simply too great.

    Every spectator present could see clearly that even if Nan Gong Changying had amputated his own dominant arm and forcefully reduced his strength, a Grandmaster was still a Grandmaster. Even without his sharp claws, this empty corpse could still hold its own against juniors like Mei Hanxue and Xue Meng.

    To truly subdue him, it would likely require the intervention of the sect leader or elders.

    But neither the sect leader nor the elders could enter. The barrier had fallen, and the area within belonged to the Nan Gong family. Any of them who rashly intruded would provoke the spirit of Dragon Mountain, and they would only end up making things worse.

    This was an internal conflict within the Confucian Wind Sect, and no one could intervene.

    If Nan Gongsi had been at full vitality, he might have been able to deal with the corpse before him on his own. But he had already suffered too much. He could have easily dodged another heavy blow, but as he grabbed the Nao Baijin collar to flip onto the creature's back, the wounds on his palms tore open, causing him to lose his grip due to the sudden loss of strength.

    "Roar!"

    The Nao Baijin sword let out a mournful cry, flying from Nan Gongsi's grasp and clattering to the edge of the barrier with a twang.

    Mo Ran saw that the hilt was now soaked in the blood seeping from the palms of Nan Gongsi's hands...

    "Ai Si! Stop fighting! Come out! Let's think of another way!" Ye Wangxi called to him repeatedly.

    People were like that. Ye Wangxi herself would never beg for mercy, but Nan Gongsi was her weakness.

    She was crying, continuously crying.

    Mo Ran had never seen her weep like this in his previous life. At this moment, she truly resembled a vulnerable young woman, her face hidden behind the stern and cold mask that her brothers, Nan Gongliu and Nan Gongxu, had forcefully attached to her out of selfishness.

    She had always believed that she would wear that mask forever, yet it crumbled into dust the instant she laid eyes on the bloodstained sword.

    "Ai Si..."

    The blow was too severe. Nan Gongsi gritted his teeth, beads of sweat rolling down his face as he tried to silently force himself back onto his feet. But a chilling glint flashed by, and a gleaming blade illuminated his profile.

    Nan Gongsi gasped softly, lifting a face that bore a faint resemblance to Nan Gongchangying's. Through the shimmering sword light, he stared defiantly at his ancestor, his head tilted back.

    Nan Gongchangying's sword hung directly above him.

    Within and without the barrier, silence fell abruptly.

    The author has something to say: The battle begins! As per tradition, with the first boss appearing, there won't be any updates to the side story to maintain the rhythm of the main plot. Muacks!

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