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"Let's go up the mountains," Ye Futian said. It was their original intention to visit the Chess Saint Villa, after all. Most of those who came to Yujing House had probably arrived in the mountains.
"Alright." Jiu Gongzi nodded and took Ye Futian and his party for the mountain roads behind Yujing House.
Jinghua Mountain was very tall, and the Chess Saint Villa was built at the top of the mountain. The building, which was built with the cliffs on its back, was a majestic and regal one.
There were many people in Chess Saint Villa and all of them had an extraordinary bearing. At that moment, many more gathered at one of the cliffs to be found in the villa, which was called Chess Peak. Every single huge rock on Chess Peak had someone on top of it. Their eyes gazed forward, and there were nine huge chessboards laid out in the air. Every chessboard emanated mystical powers.
At that moment, an intense chess battle was taking place on one of the chessboards. One of the battling partic.i.p.ants was a youth dressed in purple and had a longsword at their hip, looking dashing and sporting an extremely extraordinary bearing. The one opposite the youth was an old man, who looked plain yet had a bearing as steady as a mountain, seemingly having merged himself into one with the chessboard before him.
Both partic.i.p.ants stood on the chessboard. The youth waved their palm and brought one chess piece from the sky, stabbing one of the spots like a sword. It seemed to exude extremely powerful rules of the sword the very moment it landed on its designated spot.
The old man waved nonchalantly, and with a loud boom, a piece fell onto the chessboard. The mountains shook as a formless might descended upon them, suppressing the will of the sword.
"So this is a chess battle?" Ye Futian said.
For common folks, the arts of the guqin, chess, book, and painting were meant for tempering one's temperament, cultivating one's mind, and improving one's character. Yet for cultivators, it went without saying that while all those aspects had their place, the most important part of the arts was battle. No one would have invested a huge amount of time and energy into forms of cultivation that had little benefit in battle.
It went without saying that the Chess Saint was renowned not for his art at the game of chess itself, but for his way of chess being out of the ordinary, approaching that of the saints, just like how it was with musical spells and the Painter.
He had fought a battle with Zhou Mu, a student of the Art Saint from Donghai City, involving the guqin and painting when he was young. Ye Futian's Fourth Brother, Xue Ye, possessed a Fighting Book Spirit, and as such, was versed in the abilities of books. Ye Futian had also met someone in Alchemy City who based their cultivation on chess matrix. However, that was the very first time he witnessed a chess battle in its truest form.
"Indeed." Jiu Gongzi nodded and pointed at the youth fighting the chess battle before them, then said, "That person is named Li Mu. His teacher is a mighty one of the Sage Ranking of the Sage and Saint Ranking: the Sword Celestial. Li Mu is a very renowned swordsman himself, possessing incredible talent. The Sword Celestial was versed not only in the way of the sword but also in sword matrix. Li Mu learned well under the Sword Celestial, and it is a given that he is just as capable. His sword matrix possesses incredible power. He also learned chess in order to visit the Chess Peak, incorporating his way of the sword into that of chess. He has reached incredible heights in that respect, yet he has problems breaking through even his very first game."
Li Mu smiled and turned to look at Ye Futian, saying, "And so, that means there is even less hope for you. But of course, if there are any of you who are versed in the art, you're welcome to try."
"It seems that Jiu Gongzi is bringing people up to the Chess Saint Villa as well," someone smiled and said from one of the huge rocks beside them.
"Just joining in the fun," Jiu Gongzi replied with a smile.
That person took a look at Ye Futian and his party, deeming them to have an extraordinary bearing. However, there were hardly any who visited the Chess Saint Villa that were not extraordinary. But most of the people who visited the place came for little more than just to have fun.
Ye Futian kept his eyes on the battle. As the chess pieces fell onto the board one after another, Li Mu's expression turned increasingly serious and troubled. His movements at putting down his pieces became increasingly slow, and his palms started sweating.
A sword aura descended from the air as he waved his hand. Frightening power of devastation swept across the chessboard, yet it was suppressed and stabilized by many other pieces around it.
The old man waved as well. A low rumble sounded in an instant, and a bunch of chess pieces manifested from sword aura were pulverized right there and then. The sword aura dissipated into nothing as it was snuffed out by brute force.
A mystical feeling welled up within Ye Futian. He activated Freedom Meditation, and at the very next moment, he seemed to be able to see that the two were not actually having a game of chess, but were actually fighting in a battlefield that took the form of a chessboard. Sword auras crisscrossed throughout the battlefield, and every single one of them was incredibly sharp, out to cut down everything in their path.
Yet another sword fell, resonating with many other swords on the board. The sword matrix rang, attempting to break open the shackle placed on it to sweep the opposing pieces away.
At that moment, the old man placed yet another piece with a loud tang. Ye Futian was vaguely able to see a huge golden cauldron descending with might to suppress all, pinning down the sword auras, preventing the power of the sword auras to be unleashed.
Many swords rang and trembled. It was as if they were about to fall apart and were facing the danger of being destroyed at any moment.
Li Mu yelled and pointed at the front with both his hands. A sword fell from the sky, turning into a chess piece then sat on the chessboard battlefield. At the very moment, all swords seemed to have manifested as terrifying sword matrixes, and they seemed to be taking form soon.
Yet, at that moment, a rumble was heard as an incredibly heavy piece descended slowly to sit in a corner.
An area of swords was destroyed at the very second that piece made contact with the chessboard, snapping the sword matrix brutally. The golden cauldron unleashed dazzling lights, and with waves of light screens emanating, it suppressed all of the swords in the area, locking them down.
Li Mu grunted, and blood was seen at the corner of his mouth. He looked rather pale. Sword Will circled in the air, yet none of them descended. He was hesitating. A flash of brutality was finally seen in his eyes and he placed his piece at the very center of his opponent's area of pieces, intending to go straight for the heart with one move. Formless devastating power swept across the field and the sword matrix materialized once again, cracking the golden cauldron.
The old man waved again, unfazed. Another piece fell onto the field and the second piece made contact with the board. Li Mu's face literally went lifeless. His sword matrix was all devoured, suppressed, and dispelled, turning into dust. All the other pieces were completely devoured without messing up the board at the next moment. They were turned to dust and utterly incapable of taking form again.
"I lost." Li Mu shook his head with a bitter smile. He was still unable to make it through that very first game. The name of the Chess Saint held true. While it was true that Li Mu did not specialize in playing chess, it was nonetheless a natural thing for cultivators to learn the way of chess, enabling them to easily grasp the game's essence due to the powerful deductive capabilities possessed by cultivators in general. However, the ways demonstrated by the Chess Saint were literally G.o.dlike. All nine games that he had laid out at random stopped a great majority of people dead in their tracks.
"Mr. Li, your progress has been advancing at breakneck speed. Keep at it for some time and you will eventually break through that game," the old man said.
Li Mu nodded. It went without saying that he had no intentions to give up just because he lost. Even if he ended up incapable of inheriting the chessboard of the Art Saint, the journey was still one which would serve well as training.
"Splendid." Sage Wanxiang, who was behind Ye Futian, said, "Laying out one's formations with chess pieces and every step calculated meticulously. Endless changes were seen within, yet at the very end, everything seemed to return to its source still."
"You play chess, Uncle?" Ye Futian asked.
"The way of the cultivators is one where all aspects are interconnected one way or another. So long as one has the intention to comprehend any expectations, they will be able to comprehend it," Wanxiang answered.
You fortune-telling crook, Ye Futian thought to himself, having no intention of saying that out loud.
"How so?" Ye Futian felt rather curious.
"Playing a game of chess is akin to laying out matrixes and formations, with every step needing to be calculated. The process of both sides going at each other is a process of calculation as well as you antic.i.p.ate where your opponent will place their piece as well as your way of dealing with those moves. So long as one is able to calculate all the possible changes and form a game in their mind, one will be able to keep themselves from losing, even though they have no chance of winning. As such, playing a game of chess should be very simple," Wanxiang elaborated.
Sparkles appeared in Ye Futian's eyes. That fortune-telling crook of an uncle is an astrologer. If he is able to calculate the fates of people, calculations involved with a game of chess are really nothing indeed.
Jiu Gongzi looked at Sage Wanxiang dumbfounded. Has this old man gone mad? Calculating all possible changes?
"A chessboard has many slots for one's piece, and every time a piece is placed, there will be a variety of possibilities waiting to happen, which, in turn, means that changes in every game are practically limitless. As such, it would be entirely impossible to deduce every move which would have taken place, and you intend to calculate all of them nonetheless?" He looked at Wanxiang with a puzzled look. While Sage Wanxiang's words were sound in theory and Jiu Gongzi's teacher had also said that to be the path of the art of chess, he deemed what Wanxiang said to be rather far-fetched.
It is indeed simple to play a game of chess, and everyone knows that. But why would there be only one Chess Saint in all of the nine states?
"There is no need to make it that complex. It would have sufficed just to calculate the one you're playing with," Wanxiang said in a natural manner.
"Crazy dude," Jiu Gongzi mumbled but then turned around and smiled. "How about you go play a game then?"
Wanxiang turned his eyes at Ye Futian, and the others and asked, "Would anyone of you like to experience a chess battle?"
Ye Futian blinked and turned to look at others around him, asking, "Anyone?" However, all eyes were on him, which Ye Futian found to be rather annoying. You need the Palace Lord to do this personally?
"Xu Que," Ye Futian called, and the man quickly moved his eyes away. I don't how much of that crook Wanxiang's words are true, and I'd rather doubt his words.
"Qianchou," Ye Futian called again. Zui Qianchou simply took out his gourd and drank away.
"Seventh Brother," Ye Futian turned around and asked Yi Xiaoshi. The fat guy glanced at him lethargically. His eyes then turned to carry a despising look.
Ye Futian's face turned solemn and dead. Is the dignity of the Palace Lord even a thing to these people? Very well, a Palace Lord should have an open heart and not be petty with these people. Ye Futian thought as he stepped out and landed on the chessboard. He felt engulfed by some mystical power in an instant, as if powers usable on the chessboard were limited, preventing partic.i.p.ants from overwhelming one another with an advantage in plane, which would have violated fairness in a game.
"I seek your guidance, Senior," Ye Futian bowed and said.
"After you," the old man said.
"Please, after you," Ye Futian said. He had no idea how to make a move before his opponent.
The old man waved his hand without saying anything else. The first piece was placed with an incredibly heavy might, like that of a mountain. Ye Futian felt that incredibly heavy pressure instantly. It seemed to him as if he was fighting on the battlefield instead of playing a game of chess.
Ye Futian waited.
"Just do whatever comes to mind," Wanxiang said.
Ye Futian felt an urge to slug someone. He would not be an opponent for someone from Chess Saint Villa even if he actually knew how to play chess, let alone that he did not even know how to play.
He waved his hand and unleashed the power of rules, melding it with his piece and placed it somewhere. A rumble was heard as if a star had fallen onto the board.
"What is he trying to do?" Many turned to look at Ye Futian. That very first move felt rather puzzling!