Zhao Yijue felt a little overwhelmed by the loud cheers of the audience.
"His lifebound beast is too strong."
"That bird might be even stronger than its beastmaster."
"Fang Chenyu is the strongest disciple of the Earth Branch. Yet Tianming managed to defeat both him and Xuanyuan Cangcang, emerging as the strongest disciple in the Earth Branch within twenty short days!"
"Back when he was still in the Human Branch, he didn't seem even remotely that strong when he was fighting Xuanyuan Yufeng...."
"What kind of insane background does he have?"
Everyone was talking about Tianming. Zhao Yijue knew that his performance today had completely shocked the Human and Earth Branches. Even the disciples of the Heaven Branch were talking about him. Zhao Yijue saw Jian Xueyi and a few other female disciples of the Draconis House of Jian cheering and praising Tianming nonstop.
"He’s my little brother. I’ll introduce him to you all when he comes back," Jian Xueyi proudly said.
"It's a promise. You have to get close to someone like him who can even overturn a situation like that," said one of the female compatriots.
"Sure, you can get close to him, but don't overthink it. Someone else already has his heart.”
"It can't be you, can it? If so we would have to start sabotaging you."
Jian Xueyi started to mess around them.
"Hey, stupid Xueyi, where are you putting your hands?!"
"Oh, you've grown big."
Zhao Yijue looked at her a little unpleasantly. He had attempted to woo her for years, and even though everyone thought they were the perfect pair, Jian Xueyi simply didn't like him.
"So? Convinced now?" Jian Xueyi said after she returned, tired from all the messing around.
"I am. His performance today was far more impressive than the one doing the faction battles," Zhao Yijue said with his head lowered.
"I don't know why you’re so jealous of him. He’s a good person."
"Oh well, he won't hold it against you anyway now that he’s risen to prominence," Jian Xueyi said, her slender figure and long limbs accentuated by her robes.
"What do you think will happen to him later?"
"What do you mean?"
"The spot at the Deepstar Pool."
"It's hard to say. Fang Xingque is going to overwhelm him with hundreds of others like a gangster, and nobody dares to touch him. As for Xuanyuan Muxue, rumors say she’s reached the death tribulation phase. I worry that nobody in the Deepstar Battle is her match," Jian Xueyi said.
"However, Tianming offended the son of the palace lord of the Judgment Hall, a core ally of Fang Xingque. Not to mention, he even said something really savage to him. This won't be easy to resolve."
"You don't need to worry about it. Perhaps he really does have some kind of background. Otherwise going against Fang Xingque is tantamount to suicide."
"That's right. Fang Xingque is arrogant, reckless, and has a really bad character, always throwing his weight around. However, he’s strong in his own right and has a lot of influence."
It was common knowledge that, while the disciples of the Sterling House of Fang were arrogant, their seniors had no intention of disciplining them. After all, they would calm down sooner or later after their rise, but they wouldn't even stand a chance to rise up to the top if they held back in their youth.
Back in the Deepstar Battlefield....
"Young Master Xingque, Young Master Xingque!" Fang Shuyu had stumbled the whole way back to him. Her pink skirt was covered in dirt and grime and her hair was messy, making her look really haggard.
Currently, Fang Xingque's group had around four hundred people. Among them, he walked proudly, like a tyrant.
"What are you doing, screaming like that? Where is your class?" Fang Xingque said, looking disdainfully at Fang Shuyu. He was feeling rather annoyed after chasing Xuanyuan Muxue for so long without any results. He knew that the audience was definitely laughing at him for his vain effort.
"Young Master Xingque, something went wrong!" Fang Shuyu said desperately as her tears flowed.
"By the way, shouldn't she be with Chenyu? Weren't they going to deal with Li Tianming?" someone said.
Fang Xingque only just managed to recall it. He had been so focused on taking first place that he’d forgotten about Tianming entirely. "Say whatever you came to say. Did Chenyu run into a disciple of the Heaven Branch?"
"Out with it!"
"Young Master Chenyu was defeated by Li Tianming and two of his lifebound beasts have been killed! He even had his tongue cut out! It’s too horrible!" she said exasperatedly, completely silencing the others who were talking around her, causing them to turn to her.
"Were you seeing things? Are you sure it wasn’t your imagination?" Fang Xingque said with a laugh.
"I swear it's true! Li Tianming even wanted me to pass you a message," she solemnly said.
Fang Xingque's gaze grew cold. Everyone could see how badly he was shaking, showing that he was completely enraged.
"He said that as long as he lives, you’ll never be able to get a spot in the Deepstar Pool," she said in an almost hushed voice.
Even though it sounded like a joke, nobody dared to laugh.
"Say that again?"
"He said that you’ll never be able to get the spot of the Deepstar Pool—"
"Damn his mother! Gaaah!" Fang Xingque foamed at the mouth and spat on the ground before suddenly coming forward, grabbing her by the collar, and giving her a slap on the face. She cried out in pain, her eyes almost popping out.
"How dare you threaten me? Who do you think you are?" Fang Xingque said as he glared at Fang Shuyu.
"Young Master Xingque, I... I’m not Li Tianming... Waaah...." She was so terrified that her face was completely pale.
"Buzz off!" Fang Xingque said and tossed her aside. Everyone moved to the side when he drew his sword and began smashing everything in sight, watching him throw a tantrum without so much as daring to twitch.
"Since when have I ever been mocked like this? Been so laughable?" he said, glaring at the others.
"Calm down, Xingque," said a Heaven Branch disciple. He knew that Fang Xingque had a short temper because of his age.
"Fine, I’ll calm down...." Even though he was taking a deep breath, his eyes only grew redder. He was still fuming with rage.
"Chenyu isn't weak at all, so that means Li Tianming must be growing rapidly.
"So rapid, he’s even faster than my Rainbow Phoenix Bloodline?!"
"That seems to be the case. I really wonder what makes him so talented in cultivation."
"Let's not overthink it. He’s antagonized me, so I’ll leave Xuanyuan Muxue aside and deal with him first. Since he dared to kill two of my brother's lifebound beasts, I’ll cripple him!" Fang Xingque said, then pulled Fang Shuyu over again. "Can you still find him?"
"Yes. He said the reason he didn't wash off the powder is because he's waiting for you to look for him," she said.
"Dammit!" Fang Xingque was about to explode again.
"Xingque, come over here for a bit," said a woman dressed in orange who suddenly stepped out and waved at him.
"Sister Yun." Fang Xingque had the others leave and kept only the Heaven Branch disciples beside him. Sister Yun was among them.
"Your father has sent word," she said.
"What is it?"
"He wants you to leave Xuanyuan Muxue alone for now and focus on killing all of Li Tianming's lifebound beasts."
"That’s exactly what I was planning on doing. As expected of my father, he really understands me. With him having my back, this won't be a problem. The few hundred of us and all nine Heaven Branch disciples will go after him. I’d like to see where he can run."
"That is right. The sect master also instructed for you to not underestimate him and deal with him as soon as possible, given how fast he improves."
"All right. Did my dad say what his true identity really is?"
"I wonder why not?" Fang Xingque found it a little weird. He knew that someone had Tianming's back, otherwise he wouldn't be so daring.
"I don't know either. Just do as he says."
"That's right. My dad’s already given me his word. I doubt anyone in the sect has more influence than him," Fang Xingque said with a look of adoration. "My dad is right. There’s no such thing as justice, only power and position that can garner respect and fear. I’ll aim to become someone just like him!"
After Tianming left the Deepstar Battlefield, he trained at the Old Deepstar Path for two hours before going to the Heaven Cauldron. On the way there, he noticed that his notoriety was growing. Disciples of the Heaven and Earth Branches all stopped to look at him, but they didn't stop him. Instead, they looked at him perplexedly.
"It is obvious that they don't want to get too close to me because I’ve offended too many disciples from the Sterling House of Fang."
As Tianming walked past, he heard the whispers.
"It's not like I have a choice. To make sure Fourth can hatch, I need a spot at the Deepstar Pool. The conflict was inevitable."
After witnessing that vision, Tianming had much more hope for the fourth egg. He had come to Heaven Cauldron to see how deep he could go into the spirit hazard pool with his empyrean gold body, even without a body-refining technique.
"To reach the bottom, I’ll need an Ancient Deepstar Godbody." He was really looking forward to it. As he was rising up to the Heaven Cauldron, he held a bottle of fine wine, but Ouyang Jianwang was nowhere to be seen.
"He must’ve left on an errand."
Then Tianming dipped into the Heaven Cauldron. The spirit hazards around him sizzled against his body, but he endured and continued on. Most of them were fire, lightning, water, and earth type, all of which he could endure rather well nowadays.
"I think I'm a third way down!"
After that were the tribulation hazards. "This is where I had to stop last time."
He grit his teeth and continued down. Nearby was a black flame tribulation spirit hazard called a Boneshave Flame. It could burn his body and shave his bones. The sour feeling of pain was hard to describe.
"Do or die!"