Chapter 246 - Taiji Mountain Versus Azure Dragon Sword Mountain
The fourth great hall to the right of Fengyun Immortal Mountain's was Taiji Hall. In it were three men. Among them were two youths, one dressed in black and the other in white. The white-clad youth was Yuwen Shengcheng. He sat in the corner and quietly watched the other two without even daring to breathe heavily.
His elder brother, the black-clad youth, was prostrating himself toward the only other person in the hall who sat tall on a throne. Half of his silhouette was hidden under the shade.
The low light made it hard to see him clearly, but that didn't detract from how scary he seemed; one of his eyes was pure black and the other was pure white. His inky black eye radiated a sinister aura, while his snow-white eye seemed cold and detached, not to mention the eyeballs themselves seemed to be slowly rotating.
The man sat there like an idol to be worshipped, so lofty and high up that normal people wouldn't dare take a peek at it. Just as Yuwen Shengcheng shuddered from the tension in the air, the heterochromic man spoke.
"Shendu, it's about time. Given your current level, our clan is still some ways off from glory."
The black-clad youth shuddered. One could see that his eyes were bloodshot when he raised his head to speak. "Dad, I understand. I’ll give it my all at the final moment!"
"Do you remember what I told you most often during the past ten years?"
"Of course! It's burned into my memory! I didn't forget it for even a moment!"
"Then repeat it for me."
"Father, if I, Yuwen Shendu, fail to obtain the Grand-Orient Sword, I will pay for my failure with death."
"That's right. You must atone for your sins with death before the ancestors of the Yuwen Clan," the man coldly said.
"I will definitely not die! I will not betray the hopes you and the clan placed on me!" he swore in a low voice, his gaze revealing his iron dedication.
"Not bad. Shendu, you seem rather spirited. If you succeed, you'll be the hero of the clan. Our empire in the Grand-Orient Realm will one day belong to you."
"But if you fail, you’ll be condemned by the clan!" His voice weighed on Yuwen Shendu's shoulder like a mountain.
From a distance, Yuwen Shengcheng shuddered and gasped.
"Shengcheng," the man said as he turned around.
"Yes, Dad!" Yuwen Shengcheng hurriedly kneeled.
"I’ll give you a chance to kill your rival today."
"Dad, I will definitely finish it."
"If you can't, I’ll give what I have prepared for you to Zhenxing."
"Understood, Dad!" While Yuwen Shengcheng was swimming in cold sweat, his eyes seemed sharp and savage. He could no longer back down. If he failed, his father would be utterly disappointed in him and divert the resources reserved for him to Yuwen Zhenxing, which was a serious matter for Yuwen Shengcheng. He had never thought his rematch with Tianming would require him to sharpen his killing intent to this point.
Li Tianming is Ye Shaoqing's direct disciple, yet Father wants me to kill him. It looks like Father's authority in the sect is higher than anyone can imagine! That meant he would be able to do whatever he wanted later. At the very least, he knew that Elder Su Zhen, the organizer of the battles, was on his father's side.
At that moment, Su Zhen's voice spread throughout the First Grand-Orient Battlefield. "The participants of the first match are Taiji Mountain's Yuwen Shengcheng and Azure Dragon Sword Mountain's Li Tianming!"
The Prime Struggle had officially started.
When Tianming heard the elder's announcement, he was still standing by Ye Shaoqing's side along with Jingyu and Qingyu. As Ye Shaoqing had obtained the name list beforehand, Tianming knew he would be fighting Yuwen Shengcheng.
"Tianming, don't underestimate your opponent. I heard Yuwen Shengcheng broke through to the sixth level, and his lifebound beast has also evolved to a second-order saint beast. Even though he's only thirteen, his cultivation even rivals many of his elders!" Jingyu had been nagging so much that Tianming felt like his eardrums were going to shrivel up.
"Granny, let me tell you something," Tianming said."What is it?"
"Nobody has ever caught up to me after tasting defeat at my hands."
"Oh, my grandson is a feisty one, I see," she said with a smile. She hated the Yuwen Clan with a passion. "If possible, help me beat up that useless wretch. The harder the better."
"Deal." After Tianming nodded to Ye Shaoqing, he stepped into the battlefield.
"I, Li Tianming, direct disciple of Azure Dragon Sword Mountain, am ready to fight!"
This was the first time Tianming had appeared in front of a crowd this huge that included even the most powerful people within the sect. Most of them had heard of their new junior sect master, but haven't seen him personally yet.
"Rumors say that he knocked four of Yuwen Shengcheng's teeth out right after he broke through to the first level of Unity. Is that him?"
"This is Yuwen Shengcheng's rematch. I heard he's far stronger than before."
"Now the junior sect master is at the second level of Unity. It's also said that he's a pentabane."
"But Yuwen Shengcheng has a second-order saint beast, and he's now at sixth-level Unity and is still younger than the junior sect master!"
While most thought the age gap was three years, it was actually seven. However, the time it had taken Tianming to recultivate was less than a tenth of Yuwen Shengcheng's entire cultivation journey so far.
"For them to be fighting in the first battle.... It seems that the matches are rigged."
"The two elders of the Yuwen Clan definitely had a hand in it."
"It's starting with a bang! Nice!"
"Since the Yuwen Clan had made this happen, they must be really confident in Yuwen Shengcheng. I bet there's a ninety percent chance this will work out."
"Yuwen Shengcheng just stepped into the battlefield. How terrifying. It's only been two years since I last saw him, but he already looks like an adult."
"Given his background and talent, he's sure to become a prime disciple in three years. One of the four prime disciples in the current generation will have to make way for him."
Praises rained into Yuwen Shengcheng's ears, making him feel rather satisfied with himself.
"I, Yuwen Shengcheng of Taiji Mountain, am ready to fight!" he yelled. Stepping into the limelight, he fixed his bloodshot eyes onto his opponent. Tianming was standing atop a boulder and looking down on him from up high, as a calm beast would gaze at its prey. He could tell Yuwen Shengcheng hated him with passion.
I didn't think I’d have a chance to get revenge, Yuwen Shengcheng thought.
The first battle was already enough to get the audience riled up. Too many had heard of Tianming's amazing talent, but most still had their doubts. At least eighty thousand of the hundred thousand audience members were paying attention to him, talking about him nonstop.
"Li Tianming, if you dare, face me in a death battle. This won't end until one of us perishes!" Yuwen Shengcheng stomped forward, each of his steps leaving a deep imprint in the ground. He didn't care about the gazes of the other thirty-one elders, nor the opinions of the audience members. All he wanted to do was to secure his future and his father and grandfather's opinion of him.
"In your dreams. If you kill me, someone will take care of the aftermath. But if I kill you, I doubt I'll be left alive for long." A death battle meant nothing when their standing was so different.
"You're a bastard who knows nothing but how to find excuses for your cowardice. I hope you don't surrender and crawl out of the battlefield with the blood of the Apex Branch flowing through your veins!" Yuwen Shengcheng was already right in front of Tianming.
"Oh?" So what if he was from the Apex Branch? Tianming shot a glance at Elder Su Zhen. He was now allowed to start. "Then I'll let you have a taste."
"Die!" Yuwen Shengcheng charged toward him with murderous fervor. It seemed that his willpower had improved after his breakthrough. At that moment, his lifebound beast charged forwards and roared, shaking the entire arena.
"A second-order saint beast, the Eight-armed Taotie!" Cries of awe and shock reverberated throughout the battlefield. Tianming squinted and noticed that the beast's aura seemed more imposing after its evolution. It wasn't just its additional arms; it had also doubled in size from the evolution. Each of its arms were much bigger and thicker, not to mention it was much uglier and more fearsome than before.
The taotie opened its bloody mouth and terrified the crowd, in stark contrast to Yuwen Shengcheng's handsomeness. Even Tianming had to admit that his foe was much stronger than before.
He wielded a large, thick blade in his hand. It wasn't the Nine-ring Bloodblade from before, but rather a new, completely white beastial weapon that seemed to be forged from a large piece of bone. The pale white seemed rather unnerving to look at. The blade wasn't one smooth parabola; it had a sawtooth edge instead. It was definitely a weapon capable of causing huge bleeding wounds. Tianming saw some violet heavenly patterns on the weapon—a sign that it was a grade-seven beastial weapon like Archfiend. It was stronger than his Grand Thunderflare Sword.
"Yuwen Shengcheng can finally master the power of a grade-seven beastial weapon."
"This is the Heavenly Bone. It's best at drawing blood."
"He really did undergo a complete makeover! Thanks to his beast's evolution, he seems far stronger than before."
As they cheered, Yuwen Shengcheng stood imposingly on the taotie.
"Die!" Man and beast roared as they charged toward Tianming.
"Ying Huo, Meow Meow."
"Let's go!" Ying Huo's gaze burned bright as it excitedly looked at the Eight-armed Taotie. "How many stars does it have?"
"Twenty-three," Tianming said.
"Now that makes me mad. Meow Meow, let's tear his eyes off!" Ying Huo was truly envious to see someone's eight-star lifebound beast evolve into having so many stars.
"Meow!" After the black cat leaped out of Tianming's embrace, it immediately turned into a Regal Chaosfiend, roaring and sending thousands of bolts of lightning all over the battlefield. It was said that Tianming might have a fourth-order saint beast as he managed to train at the ninth gate. But now, it was apparent that his lifebound beasts only had eight stars. The rumors were immediately shattered.
"How can eight-star lifebound beasts compete with one with twenty-three stars?" Despite Meow Meow's imposing form, it only had half as many limbs as the Eight-armed Taotie. The little chick, on the other hand, was so small it was easy to miss.
The battle was nothing short of chaotic. Beastmasters had to fight in teams, after all. Tianming's double unity fields fused with Ying Huo and Meow Meow's, allowing his huge nexus to gather spiritual energy within the fields.
However, Yuwen Shengcheng and his taotie's combined field was even larger. But, so what?
Ying Huo, hiding behind Meow Meow, ordered Tianming and his brother to attack. "Brothers, charge!"