Chapter 221 - Fleeting Lifespan
Tianming had never imagined Yuwen Shengcheng would be arrogant to this degree. It was as if he believed the Grand-Orient Sect belonged to his clan, and he audaciously struck with the full intent of killing Tianming.
Many inner disciples gasped at the sudden move, not expecting that Yuwen Shengcheng would attempt to harm someone without so much as a warning.
"Are you courting death?" Tianming's gaze turned frosty. "Since you're still young, I'll forgive your earlier provocation. But now, you really have no one else but yourself to blame!”
Right before the palm strike hit, Tianming raised his left arm and flashed the Bewildering Eye, instantly causing Yuwen Shengcheng to hallucinate. Tianming didn't know what he saw, but the slight moment in which he was disoriented was enough.
He stepped forward, focusing his energy into his left arm and grabbed the palm, then gave it a harsh twist, resulting in an audible snap. Everyone froze. What was going on? A full-powered palm strike from someone at the fifth level of Unity was actually stopped by Tianming's grab!
Yuwen Shengcheng let out a gut-wrenching shriek and his face grew pale. However, that wasn’t the end.
"Little rascal, I hope your parents teach you a lesson!" Tianming spat with a teasing smile, then landed a slap directly on Yuwen Shengcheng's face.
The crisp strike sent him spiraling away through the air with his robes flapping, then he landed face first on the ground. By the time he got back up, half his face was swollen, a complete contrast to his handsome face from before. The crowd let out yet another gasp at the completely unbelievable turn of events.
"The junior sect master only just broke through to Unity!" Many others echoed the same thought.
"Is this the true might of a pentabane?"
"It's far too terrifying! He can fight someone four levels above him!"
Their eyes widened with utter confusion as they struggled to find words to describe what they were feeling.
"Didn't someone say that the junior sect master had come to get himself killed because he couldn't endure the three months of humiliation?"
"Who was the one who mocked him?"
"Everyone, he's really a pentabane!"
"I heard the tales about the Li Saint Clan. They used to be the most powerful clan in the whole Grand-Orient Realm, but those were their ancestors."
"I didn’t know their clan could still give birth to terrifying monsters like that!"
"It's clear from a glance. Even though Yuwen Shengcheng reached a rather high point in his training, he was completely manhandled. He must've been spoiled by his lenient upbringing."
It only took one exchange to change the other disciples’ impressions of Tianming. They were no fools, after all, and could tell that Yuwen Shengcheng was the one who had horribly lost out this time. His misguided provocation and overconfidence in his abilities only tripled down on the humiliation!
As for Su Tao, Su Li, Gongsun Yu, and Feng Chiyu, they turned and looked at Tianming, flabbergasted.
"Isn't this junior sect master too scary? Maybe Shengcheng was just taken off guard because he was unprepared?" Su Li struggled to explain.
"Sis... Brother Shengcheng was the one who launched a surprise attack...."
Yet he lost, despite his surprise attack.
"I think he definitely underestimated his opponent and gave him an opening. In a proper fight, he might not lose that easily."
"That's right! Brother Shengcheng's lifebound beast is rather powerful!"
That was all they could think of to console themselves. But the thought of Tianming possibly having a fourth-order saint beast made them despair once more. Only after a good while did they snap out of it and go to help Shengcheng up.
"Buzz off!" Shengcheng raged. When he stood up, his right arm audibly snapped; it seemed the bones had reconnected. He shot a burning gaze at Tianming, filled with bloodlust.
"Junior Sect Master, I dare you to go to the Second Grand-Orient Battlefield to fight it out! I admit that I underestimated you. From now on, I'll show you my true power! I’ll tear you into a million pieces!" he roared with full confidence. It seemed he was under the impression that he was defeated because he lost focus for a moment there, rather than seeing the red eyeball on Tianming's palm.
"What’s the Second Grand-Orient Battlefield?" Tianming asked.
"This is the sacred mountain. We can have private duels here under the supervision of the mountain chiefs. As long as both sides agree, they can even have a duel to the death. However, the biggest location for that is the First Grand-Orient Battlefield. It's the largest sacred dueling ground in the sect. That's where the yearly evaluations and the council summit are held," Qingyu said. Having witnessed Yuwen Shengcheng's embarrassing display, she felt much relieved.
"Come, I'll go there with you!" Tianming said. It wasn't in him to look for trouble, but he would never shy away when trouble came looking for him.
"At least you have balls. Li Qingyu, make sure to find a spot to bury your brother!" he mocked. He still oozed confidence.
"I wonder where you get all that spunk from. Take a look in the mirror first," Qingyu commented.
His perfect face now had a palm print on it, and even his teeth were a little shaky. Qingyu bringing that up only caused him to relive the pain.
"Shut up!" He couldn't control himself any longer and charged at the siblings. It was the first time Tianming had seen a fool that reckless.
"So this is the son of Yuwen Taiji? Color me disappointed," Tianming mocked. The kid's cultivation was high for his age, but that was no excuse for such childish behavior. He was definitely spoiled by a comfortable life that lacked any trace of hardship. Since Yuwen Shengcheng wasn't going to wait till they reached the Second Grand-Orient Battlefield, there was no longer a need for Tianming to be polite.
All of a sudden, a loud roar resounded in their ears. "Who dares?!"
Tianming had wanted to strike, but stopped himself in time and retreated a few steps with Qingyu. When he looked around, he was sandwiched between two seniors. They were probably the sacred mountain chiefs.
Yuwen Shengcheng still didn't stop and tried to circle around the chiefs to attack Tianming. The moment he made it past, the female chief grabbed his collar and smashed him straight into the ground. Now, his neck seemed a little crooked.
"Which fu—" His voice vanished when he saw who those two were and read their expressions. Immediately calming down, he knew he’d only be looking for trouble if he tried fighting now.
"For you to dare to fight at the Imperial Ninefold Gates.... Do you think we don't exist? Scram!" the female chief with the beautiful figure said. Her presence and aura immediately made her the center of attention, especially coupled with her swift way of dealing with the rascal. Tianming was rather satisfied when he saw the kid bounce and tumble after the ground smash. Even Qingyu couldn't help but chuckle. Though Tianming was only there to train and made a breakthrough, that pesky fly had kept on annoying him, only to suffer public humiliation.
If this wasn't karmic intervention, nothing was.
"Ye Yuxi!" Yuwen Shengcheng spat when he climbed back up. His eyes were on fire.
"What? You want to kill me too?" Ye Yuxi asked with a smile.
"Shengcheng, be polite and respectful," said the other mountain chief as he picked the kid up.
"Third Uncle...." Hate oozed out of Yuwen Shengcheng when he saw the looks and heard the chatter of the crowd. It was the first time he had ever suffered such humiliation! However, it was indeed his mistake. This wasn't the right place to strike, and the one who punished him was a mountain chief, of all people. Even if he complained to his father and grandfather, he would get nothing but more slaps.
"Calm down!" Yuwen Kaitai said as he gave Shengcheng’s head a smack.
"Yes!" He endured it as tears of humiliation flooded his face.
"Sheesh, he's finally regained his senses." Tianming struggled to stifle another laugh. It pleased him to no end to see a spoiled young brat disciplined like that. Though Yuwen Shengcheng heard what Tianming said, he could only shrug and endure it. The beauties behind him still stood obediently nearby, shuddering in anger.
"Li Tianming, come to the Second Grand-Orient Battlefield if you dare accept a death battle! I'll educate you on what it means to be a human!" Yuwen Shengcheng provoked.
"Forget it. I'll wait until you grow some hair down there first," Tianming said.
The mountain chiefs were already there, and he’d already had his fill of humiliating the kid, so he couldn't bother any longer; he had far more important things to do. Now that he’d finally broken through to Unity, he wanted to charge forward with his cultivation as soon as possible, as well as study Qingyu's Pentamoon Skybane's properties.
"How can you be the junior sect master if you don't have guts? How laughable!"
"Look in the mirror. You're the laughable one. I even went easy on you. I was afraid you'd kill yourself out of shame if you lost too badly. That would be troublesome for me indeed."
This time, Ye Yuxi humphed and said, "Yuwen Shengcheng, shut up and leave the Imperial Ninefold Gates." That finally shut the brat up, though it didn't stop him from shaking with rage.
"Yuxi, don't get mad at a child," Yuwen Kaitai said heartily. Patting the kid's shoulder he said, "Go home, first. Su Li, take them back to rest and calm down."
"Yes, Chief Yuwen."
Still unconvinced, Yuwen Shengcheng cursed Tianming nonstop as he left.
"Yuwen Shengcheng is about to break through to the sixth level of Unity at the age of thirteen!"
"The junior sect master is only at the first level of Unity. He might not win if they really fight at the Second Grand-Orient Battlefield."
"The junior sect master isn’t a smart guy. He would be a fool to not take the challenge. Yuwen Shengcheng would give him endless hell for it."
"He humiliated Yuwen Shengcheng so hard there's no way he'll be let off that easily."
The crowd was still discussing what just happened.
Yuwen Shengcheng was at the fifth level of Unity at only thirteen; even Qingyu had only managed to reach that level near the age of sixteen. Tianming had to admit that the descendants of the Yuwen Clan were indeed rather talented.
"Come here," Ye Yuxi said after Yuwen Shengcheng had left.
"Big Brother, she’s Exalted Master Ye's younger twin sister," Qingyu reminded Tianming.
"Greetings, Chief Ye," Tianming said.
"Let me see your fourth-order saint beasts," she said with an anticipatory gaze.
"By all means." Tianming took out the little chick and black cat and laid them on his palms. Those two innocent-looking little creatures looked at her with googly eyes.
She widened her eyes and said, "You think I'm blind? How could these be fourth-order saint beasts? I wouldn't even believe they're four-star lifebound beasts!"
"That's right, I don't believe it myself," Tianming said.
"Then how do you explain being able to train at the ninth gate?" she impatiently asked. Tianming didn't know that she had stood up in shock when he broke through at the ninth gate. She was so flustered tears had formed! She really thought that Tianming had fourth-order saint beasts and her worldview immediately collapsed when she witnessed what happened. But after seeing the little critters, she seemed to regain some semblance of normalcy.
"I don't know either. I just felt that the other gates weren’t exerting any pressure at all," he innocently said.
"Let me see," Yuwen Kaitai said, turning his gaze to the little animals, then back to Tianming. He laughed and said, "Junior Sect Master, you're a rather interesting fellow. As expected of the son of Li Wudi." How much he meant what he said, Tianming didn't know. Either way, he felt a strong sense of danger coming from the bald, scar-faced man.
"Was there a problem with the gates? Yuwen Kaitai, go test them out," Ye Yuxi said.
"I don't dare," he casually said.
"Try it yourself then."
Ye Yuxi didn't dare either.
"Perhaps it has something to do with him being a pentabane. The Imperial Ninefold Gates probably went easy on him," Yuwen Kaitai said.
"Perhaps. There's obviously a problem with the gates. There's no way they won't exert any pressure on these seven-star lifebound beasts of his," Ye Yuxi concluded. She had seen the beasts herself and verified that they weren't fourth-order saint beasts; they weren’t even saint beasts at all! The seven stars in their eyes were proof that they were only seven-star lifebound beasts.
They wrote it off as Tianming having high compatibility with the gates. That must be part of the reason why he dared to make his breakthrough in such a high profile manner. Nobody would really think his little chick and black kitten were actually primordial chaos beasts, nor were they even aware that such a classification existed. All they could do was attribute it to his pentabane status.
It also helped that nobody had actually seen a pentabane with their own eyes before.
"Chief, may I leave now?" he asked.
"Go go go," Ye Yuxi said with a wave. She could feel a headache coming.
"Thank you, Chief." Tianming smiled and took Qingyu with him.
"Wait," Ye Yuxi called out.
"Is there another matter, Chief Ye?" Tianming asked.
"Yuwen Shengcheng definitely won’t let you off. Be careful."
Tianming was quite surprised she would be concerned for him, and even warned him in Yuwen Kaitai's presence.
"Please rest assured. If he comes running to me, I'll make sure he leaves crawling."
Yu Yuxi couldn't help but scratch her head. She was feeling rather irked by the fearless fellow.
"He was only careless just now. You might not be his match," she warned.
"I see. Thankfully, I didn't accept his challenge."
He had to keep a low profile. The others secretly praised him for making a strategic retreat.
"Go now!" She hurriedly waved for Tianming to leave. The siblings left on the back of Qingyu’s Grandwhite Kunpeng.
"A pentabane really is fascinating. To think that the Imperial Ninefold Gates didn't apply any pressure on him..." Yuwen Kaitai said with his arms crossed, looking in the direction of the kunpeng.
"Perhaps it’s their ancestral blessing," Ye Yuxi said.
"I’d advise the Ye Clan to distance themselves from the Li Saint Clan," he suddenly said with a face full of smiles.
"What do you mean by that?"
"The Ye Clan just attained prominence. It’d be a shame for you to ruin it for yourselves again."
"Huh." She wouldn't have any of it.
"You really are ballsy. I worry that the Ye Clan will end up spineless like the Li Saint Clan. Hah!" he said, then left the gates.
Tianming looked at the distant sights from the back of the kunpeng with a gloomy expression. His horizons had been completely blown open in the past few days. Despite being so far off from a prime disciple not too long ago, he could finally see himself catching up after his breakthrough; he felt that his changed body would be enough for him to catch up with breakneck speed. Even if nobody believed he could, he didn't have an ounce of doubt in himself. It was a confidence befitting an unparalleled genius. Even Qingyu noticed the change in his mentality.
"It appears that my biggest enemy is myself."
He had underestimated Lifesbane. When he’d broken through just now, he and Feiling noticed that issue. That was why he couldn't even bring himself to care about Yuwen Shengcheng. Otherwise, he would've gone to the Second Grand-Orient Battlefield and taught the kid a lesson, given his previous temperament. But now, he’d had an epiphany and knew his true foe would be himself.
"Big Brother, my feeling was correct. When you reached the first level of Unity, your body started aging at ten times the speed. In other words, each day of your cultivation is equivalent to ten days of other people's, at the cost of having less than ten years of life remaining.... You're already twenty now. While mortals can live up to a hundred, most of them reach their limits at eighty. At this rate, your body will be thirty after a year, and forty after two years! Yet, the prime time for cultivation is the first forty years of one's life. After the age of fifty, you not only won’t improve any more, but you'll even get worse. That's why you only have two years' time to properly cultivate," Feiling said.
Tianming could feel it himself. He felt like he experienced ten times the amount of time others did. His tenfold talent multiplier came at the cost of a lifespan that was ten times shorter than others'. It was a disaster that had exploded the moment he reached Unity.
"I had thought the appearance of the ten bane-rings was a sign of Lifesbane being cured. I didn't think my real Lifesbane just hadn't shown up yet!"
Tianming hadn’t really understood Lifesbane back when he was still in Vermillion Bird, leaving him to truly marvel at its wonder now.