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Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city of Huaisha, sporadic lights were glittering in the dark like fireflies.
Less than five hundred meters from the port, in a training room on the fifth floor of a building, Chen Huan was holding a black wooden stick and silently looking out the window at the spotty city lights. She tied her hair in a ponytail, and the white tight-fit protective garment accentuated her slim figure.
“Starting practice again?” The door was pushed open as Xu Yi walked in with a cup of hot tea. Unlike Chen Huan, Xu Yi was wearing a black nightgown, and she had long cascading hair. It appeared that she had just gotten out of bed.
“Yeah, the competition is drawing near. I need to ramp up my training,” said Chen Huan as she looked back at her. “You’re up early today.”
“I was supposed to open the clubhouse gate today, but when I arrived and saw that there was light in the training room, I knew it was you.” Xu Yi paused, went up next to Chen Huan, and pulled a wooden chair over to sit down. “Are you still worried about Lin Sheng?” she asked in a low voice.
“Am I not supposed to? They’re only selecting two people out of the entire ten teams in Huaisha. I’m not at my best right now, and I’m not sure if I can guarantee myself a place,” Chen Huan replied quietly.
“That’s why you’re stretching yourself?” Xu Yi asked. “Do you think this is going to help?”
Chen Huan remained silent, and Xu Yi stopped talking. She knew the reason for Chen Huan’s desperation.
The organizers of the National Amateur Swordsmanship Tournament consisted of a group of wealthy people who had an interest in Naxi Swordsmanship. Naturally, they used money rewards to attract participation from major teams.
In Huaisha’s case, anyone who could make it to the provincial level would get a cash prize of as high as ¥50,000. It was money that Chen Huan was hell-bent on getting. The National Amateur Swordsmanship Tournament was the avenue for Chen Huan to get extra money for herself. Everything was fine until the emergence of Lin Sheng.
Apparently, Chen Huan was not confident in beating the young chap, and that stressed her out, forcing her to rise early for training.
“Take care, then,” Xu Yi said.
“I’m fine. I know how much my body can take,” Chen Huan replied while she shook her head.
Xu Yi sighed and said nothing more. She turned around, took the teacup, and left. Closing the door behind her, Xu Yi paused outside the training room when she heard the sound of Chen Huan practicing her sword skills with the wooden stick. Xu Yi let out a sigh again before she walked downstairs to the office on the fourth floor. She was a full-time staff in the sports club, responsible for coordinating and managing the training-room rental operation.
Back in the office, Xu Yi closed the door, picked up the telephone on the desk, and dialed a familiar number.
“Hello?” a calm male voice answered.
“It’s me,” Xu Yi said. “She’s stepping up her training again. It’s been three days now.”
There was silence on the other end.
“She hasn’t fully recovered from her injury yet. I’m a bit worried about her.” Xu Yi paused.
“I got it,” replied the male voice. “Keep an eye on her.”
“Understood.” Xu Yi exhaled and only put down the phone after the male voice hung up.
“I’m fine! I’m not sick! It’s true! I swear!”
In Steelscale Club, Madillan had Russell in a headlock with both hands. “You’re terribly sick! You should get treatment!” Madillan retorted, face red. But it was not obvious since his skin was dark.
As soon as Lin Sheng arrived, he noticed the club staff chuckling at the side while watching Russell and Madillan’s wrestling farce. Meanwhile, Shayeen was holding a tiny mirror and touching up her makeup, seemingly uninterested in the drama.
“What are you two doing?” Lin Sheng was dumbfounded as he saw Russell try to grab Madillan’s lower body, but Madillan blocked him. Both of them were engaged in bare-knuckle fighting.
“He’s crazy, master!” Madillan shouted. “He lunged at me and tried to kiss me just now. I was lucky enough to dodge in time!”
“I didn’t f*cking mean to kiss you. It was meant for Shayeen!” Russell groaned in pain as Madillan tightened his hands.
“But your mouth f*cking touched me!” Madillan roared.
Shayeen put her mirror away and laughed at the two. “The retard tried to ambush me while I was coming upstairs, but it turned out that it was Madillan whom he had waylaid. I knew what he was up to!” She laughed darkly as she put the final touch to her hair buns before she jumped down from the stone table on the front stage.
While he was envious of their close friendship, Lin Sheng was half-crying, half-smiling seeing what had happened. Sitting down by the side, Lin Sheng decided to wait it out while he got some rest.
Russell had allegedly received specialized training, but his strength was still no match for Madillan. The outcome was obvious in the close-quarters combat, and the episode ended with Russell begging Madillan for mercy.
Lin Sheng clapped his hands together and said, “Alright, guys, let’s start the lesson.”
“Here we go!”
“Let’s go, Master Lin.”
Madillan and Russell followed closely as Lin Sheng went into the training room. Meanwhile, Shayeen went to get changed in a separate fitting room for ladies.
Compared with Tengchong Swordsmanship Club, Steelscale Club was much better equipped—protective garments were divided into outer and inner layers, elbow guards, shoulder guards, knee guards, arm guards, and everything needed for safe training there. Even the props were real and heavy, but they were not as substantial as Lin Sheng’s black sword. The swords were pretty close to the real thing except they were not sharpened.
The three students gathered at the center of the training room in a full set of gear, waiting for further instruction.
“Master Lin, are you interested in entering a competition?” Shayeen, the more dependable student, first asked.
“What competition?” Lin Sheng was baffled. “As you all know, my skills are self-taught, and I rarely have contact with the outside world.” He told them that he was a self-taught master and learned his sword skills through real-world battles. His fighting style was true as a result, and the three of them had never doubted it. The only baffling thing was from what actual battle did Lin Sheng learn his sword skills? After all, practitioners of Naxi Swordsmanship were a rare breed now.
“NAST, short for the National Amateur Swordsmanship Tournament,” Russell quickly replied. “Traditionally, Chen Huan’s our representative. She’s the best candidate in our area.”
“That was last time; things are different now,” said Madillan. “If you’re interested, Master Lin, we’ll help you register, and the club will bear the registration fee.”
“What is it for?” Lin Sheng asked with a bewildered look, as he had never been exposed to such a championship.
“The main purpose is to have a friendly exchange with other practitioners aside from winning the prize money. It will add a little fame to your name too,” explained Madillan. “But in reality, you can forget about the fame,” he continued, “because it’s only a competition among amateurs who share the same interest and passion.”
“How much is it?” Lin Sheng was more interested in the prize money since his family was financially strapped right then. Plus, he had never tried to conceal his intention.
Madillan thought for a moment and said, “I can’t recall how much it is. As far as I know, there will be prize money given at every stage.”
While Madillan was still trying to recall how much it was, Shayeen had passed Lin Sheng a leaflet, which contained information on NAST. Lin Sheng briefly browsed through the material before his eyes quickly landed on the prize table.
Winners of the city stage—two prizes: ¥50,000 each.
Winner of the provincial stage—one prize: ¥100,000.
Winners of the national stage—first prize: ¥500,000, second prize: ¥200,000, third prize: ¥150,00 0.
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