Elder Gongxi gave a bright smile that didn’t seem to fit with how he had just been made the scapegoat for the Yun Zou Sect. Yuchi Bing Xia felt an even greater sense of danger but there was no way he could still prevent him from speaking up.
Elder Gongxi nodded at him and then turned to the other Elders that were visiting with their disciples and did the same. The Yun Zou Sect wanted to play? Very well. He would play a round with them! Thankfully, he had had time to come up with a plan for this since yesterday. And being in this situation where it wasn’t just the duel between his disciple and the Grandmaster’s disciple made things even easier. This time, they were really playing into his hands. “Since I was the one who came up with this idea I feel the need to point something out. Would Sect Master Yuchi allow me to do so?” He turned back to Yuchi Bing Xia, still smiling brightly.
The Sect Master could do nothing else but fake a smile and motion with his hand. “If there’s something you want to say, then please go ahead. I’m sure that all of us can only benefit from your insights.”
“Very well.” Elder Gongxi nodded. “All of us have brought a delegation of our sect disciples. And since we were worried about the Yun Zou Sect’s situation, most of us have brought the best disciples over that we had at hand at the moment we heard about the things happening here. Nevertheless, there were several disciples we couldn’t bring. Some of our brightest cultivators were in closed-door cultivation while our best practitioners were on missions, gaining experience in using their sword arts. On the other hand, the Yun Zou Sect seems to have all their disciples at disposal. And while this competition is merely to have some friendly spars, I’m of the opinion that the disciples would learn the most if they were able to exchange pointers with somebody who was close in level to them. I do think that right now their levels aren’t balanced enough.”
Yuchi Bing Xia’s brows furrowed slightly. They weren’t balanced enough? Looking at the disciples that the Elders had brought, most of them were participants of the Gathering of Practitioners or the Crystal Tournament. There were only one or two at most in each sect that hadn’t taken part in either of these fights and even those didn’t seem to be of a low level. “What is Elder Gongxi proposing?”
Elder Gongxi glanced over to where Qiu Ling and his competitor stood. “Well, take for example the Grandmaster’s disciple. There is no need to doubt which status Grandmaster Zhangsun has among the cultivators and practitioners of the first- and second-tier sects. If somebody said that he wouldn’t be able to be counted among the top ten, that person would certainly make people doubt their ability to judge other’s strength.
“As most of us were able to witness at the last Gathering of Practitioners his disciple has learned much from him. It isn’t a disgrace to admit that most of our disciples wouldn’t be able to contend against him. Having him take part in the fight would be taking opportunities from other disciples. Would the others agree with me?” He looked at the Elders from the other sects who slowly started to nod.
Yes, looking at it that way, they would really be doing a disfavor to their disciples if they let them fight with him. Swords didn’t have eyes. If the disciples got injured in this competition by the disciple of the Grandmaster, then where would they go to cry? They would merely have to suck it up and return home, reporting to their own Sect Masters. If they could eliminate such a threat they would certainly do so.
Yuchi Bing Xia glanced at Qiu Ling, wondering what he should do. It wasn’t like the Yun Zou Sect didn’t have other talents but he couldn’t deny that their situation wasn’t the best. Yu Jin was currently in closed-door cultivation, Ma Zhi Wu had vanished, Xiao Dong was on a mission, Nian Hong Fang wasn’t a good cultivator and more gifted in alchemy, and many other talents had been lost in the Leyuan region. If the Grandmaster’s disciple was taken out, it wasn’t bleak but it wasn’t looking good either.
Unfortunately, since Elder Gongxi had brought it up this directly and the other Elders had agreed with him, there was no reason to reject the suggestion. After all, he had said that this was only to exchange pointers. It wasn’t a real competition. He didn’t believe for one moment though that these Elders wouldn’t use the chance to harm the Yun Zou Sect’s disciples. After all, with their recent stroke of luck, everyone would worry that they might be able to rise in the ranks and endanger the others’ position.
He glanced at Grandmaster Zhangsun, looking for inspiration. Unfortunately, the Grandmaster stayed quiet and didn’t indicate what he thought about it. Well, they could hardly talk things through in front of everyone.
Yuchi Bing Xia made a troubled expression. “I see Elder Gongxi’s point. It’s just … You also know that we have lost a lot of disciples in the incident five years ago. I’m afraid there aren’t too many disciples that would be able to compete with the ones you brought. I’m afraid we’d be putting them in danger even though this is only a friendly competition.”
Elder Gongxi still smiled brightly. He wouldn’t give up that easily. “Ah, that’s perfectly understandable. Naturally, we recognize that the Yun Zou Sect is in a bad spot. Still, you will have to agree that the Grandmaster’s disciple is in a league of his own. I guess he also isn’t that thrilled to have a fight with our disciples.” He looked at Qiu Ling and gave a friendly smile as if he really only had his best interest in mind. “Isn’t that so?”
Qiu Ling blinked his eyes. Naturally, he indeed had no interest in fighting. But … This guy was obviously planning something bad. He probably shouldn’t let him get away with that, should he? Furthermore, his beloved had said that he was supposed to achieve honor for the Yun Zou Sect. In that case, he couldn’t just say yes, could he?
Qiu Ling straightened up and tried to look at the Elder with righteous indignation. “Elder Gongxi, what are you even saying? It’s not that I’m itching for a fight. But this is a learning experience. And your disciple’s begged me to fight against them just yesterday. If I said now that I don’t want to do that, wouldn’t they be severely disappointed? Ah, but I can understand if you’re afraid. Thinking of that other disciple of yours …” He shook his head. “Maybe I could give myself a handicap if you’re afraid that they’ll lose too badly. Like, how about just using one hand? Or maybe no hand? I think I can take them out with only my feet as well.”
Both Elder Gongxi and Sect Master Yuchi felt their lips twitching. This boy … Was he really trash-talking one of the Elders and his disciples in front of everyone?
Yuchi Bing Xia was still wondering if he should try to scold him or if he should just leave that to Grandmaster Zhangsun when Elder Gongxi already stabilized his mood. “My disciples were a little brash yesterday. Restraining their desires and learning how to cope with a situation will also do them good. Since you just want to fight because of what they said, then I do think it shouldn’t be a problem if somebody else took your place.” He glanced at Yuchi Bing Xia and raised his brows. “Would Sect Master Yuchi be alright with that?”
Yuchi Bing Xia could only smile wryly. What could he say to that? “Well, if Qiu Ling doesn’t have a problem with it …”
Elder Gongxi nodded happily. “Well, then we should have somebody else take his place. How about his fiance? He was still rather young the last time at the Gathering of Practitioners but he seems to have matured quite a bit. I’m sure his level also shouldn’t be too low considering that he has received the care of the Yun Zou Sect and Grandmaster Zhangsun’s disciple. I’d be interested to see him fight.”