Although the fight had only lasted a few moments, it was more than enough data for Valentine to proceed with a new line of thought. On paper and against monsters, it was difficult to truly gauge the level of and evolve an enhanced skill, as well as, further one's own understanding of magic. Also, it was not as if intelligent boss monsters were just wandering around everywhere.
What Valentine needed was a skilled player that would force him to turn his theory into actual application. For this task, he could think of no one better than Izroth.
As Valentine became lost in his thoughts about his innovative approach to the new magic sequence he was creating, a look of excitement formed on his face as he began to drool uncontrollably. If he was successful, he may accomplish something that no other player in RML had ever done before!
Izroth inwardly shook his head at Valentine's actions, however, he knew just how much Valentine loved magic. Therefore, he left him to his own thoughts and walked off the arena platform.
Everyone was still amazed by the fight they had just witnessed. Everything happened so fast, but that did not take away from how much of a high-level fight it was. But, in the end, Izroth's speed was simply too overwhelming for Valentine. However, to be quite honest, they thought the fight was over the first time Izroth closed the distance and yet, Valentine had managed to surprise them with his performance.
Though comparing him to Izroth was a bit too harsh. They understood that if it had been any of them up there fighting against that magic caster, then things would not have gone that smoothly.
"Your friend is pretty strong. In fact, you seem to always be surrounded by abnormal people." Mirage sighed. Back in the Blazing Temple, she was in a party with Izroth, Luna, and Azalea. One of them was an amazing healer and was even a Trephasia. As for the other player, there was probably no one present who would believe her words, but that person was even faster than Izroth!
Both of them were abnormal when compared to the majority of players and now, there was one more person who had joined their ranks in Mirage's mind.
"What do you expect? Abnormal people are naturally drawn to other abnormal people. It's the law of nature." Omega commented with a grin on his face.
Izroth only gave a carefree smile in response to Mirage and Omega's comments. However, after hearing those words and facing off against Valentine, as well as, seeing how much he had grown in such a short period of time, Izroth could not help but have certain thoughts.
'I wonder how everyone else is progressing.'
Although they had not been apart for long, Izroth was sure that everyone did not simply remain idle. In fact, after returning from their last quest together, everyone seemed motivated and determined to grow stronger. Izroth was not oblivious to this fact. He also knew that he was likely the cause of the fire that lit under them.
As someone who grew up in a world of cultivation, Izroth understood how important it was to reach for something or someone. That mountain that always appeared to be insurmountable and unclimbable.
No matter how much talent one possessed, if they lacked the will or drive to improve, then their talent would be wasted. He had seen many self-proclaimed geniuses in the Seven Realms end up stuck on their path of cultivation because of their lack of dedication and determination.
Of course, RML was not as cutthroat was the Seven Realms, but Izroth found that the same rules applied across numerous situations. That was why he made a decision after he returned from the Chaotic Dogma Realm. Izroth decided that he was going to be that insurmountable mountain that kept those around him constantly striving for a higher level.
To accomplish this task, he would keep growing stronger to a point where even an entity like the Netherworld Monarch shivered in fear when hearing his name. Once Izroth made his choice to do something, he would not do it in a half-hearted manner. He would strive to become the strongest. Someone capable of standing before armies alone and coming out victorious.
'Who knew a world with practically zero Spiritual Essence would be capable of creating something so interesting?'
A few moments later, Valentine snapped out of his deep thoughts and it was as if a wave of inspiration struck him. He rushed back into the main building without warning as though he were afraid that whatever was on his mind would disappear.
After Valentine excused himself, Qi Jiguang requested a match with Izroth. However, Qi Jiguang knew the current gap that existed between himself and Izroth. Therefore, he requested an unusual dueling format.
There was a dueling option that allowed players to duel without any skills or equipment. Each player was given equal stats across the board and 10 HP. Every strike a player successfully landed removed 1 HP from their opponent. If it as a critical hit, then the strike would remove 3 HP. Fully blocking an opponent's attack meant taking no damage at all.
This mode was not very popular amongst players for obvious reasons. Who wanted to willingly forfeit their flashy skills and equipment advantage for a boring hand to hand combat fight? Besides, it was not as if everyone that played RML knew who to actually fight in the real world. Most of the players depended entirely upon the system to guide them along in battles.
Of course, Izroth accepted Qi Jiguang's challenge without hesitation. The end results? 10-0. It was Izroth's complete victory. Qi Jiguang was not able to land a single hit even on a level playing field!
Qi Jiguang challenged Izroth to a fight again even after such a devastating defeat. Once again, he lost 10-0. Then he challenged Izroth again... And again... And again...
As Mirage, Omega, and Ying Yue watched the battle, there was a strange atmosphere around them. It was very solemn and a clear look of concern could be seen on their face.
"This is already the tenth fight..." Midnight stated with his brows furrowed.
"Isn't Izroth being a bit too cruel? He could at least let him get one hit in." Mirage said with a frown. She was not expecting Izroth to intentionally lose a match, but was it truly necessary for him to be so ruthless?
"It is becoming a bit hard to watch. I just worry that Qi Jiguang's pride won't be able to hold out after this is over." Midnight sighed. He actually agreed with Mirage, Izroth was being somewhat cruel. However, the one he thought would be the most angered or upset, Omega, had an extremely calm look on his face as his eyes never left the arena for a single moment.
Omega silently watched the duels one after the other without uttering one word of complaint about how unreasonable or cruel Izroth was being to Qi Jiguang.
From the conversations that went on between the two of them, Mirage and Midnight were certain that Qi Jiguang and Omega knew one another outside of RML and seemed to be close friends. If that was the case, why was he not outraged and so unusually calm?
Qi Jiguang's left fist soared through the air, however, it was a feint. He quickly spun his body around as his leg shot off the ground and towards Izroth's head.
Izroth completely ignored Qi Jiguang's feint and ducked to avoid his incoming kick. At the same time, Izroth placed his hands on the ground and swiftly turned his body as his foot swept outward in an arc.
Qi Jiguang was swept off his feet and landed flat on his back as his body crashed onto the arena platform.
"Your movements are too predictable and your feints are calling loudly to me. All feints should carry the threat of a real attack. Why is this? Because all feints should initially be a real attack. Your attack should be able to instantly switch between illusion and reality at will, between a true attack and a feint. Read your opponent before making your choice, do not make your choice before reading your opponent." Izroth said in a rare cold tone.
Qi Jiguang stood to his feet and the exhaustion could clearly be seen on his face. However, there was a flame in his eyes. After his first defeat, it would be a lie if he fooled himself into believing that it had not affected him. In truth, he was furious and humiliated! He wanted to get revenge as soon as possible and instantly challenged Izroth to another fight.
Who was he? He was considered a prodigy in the world of martial arts! There was no one around his age who could compete with him on equal terms. Yet, this person who he had never even heard of before RML existed was completely overwhelming him in every way possible. How could he not feel ashamed? Humiliated? Hateful? Enraged? He was all of the above!
However, the second defeat soon followed after and Izroth had not uttered a single word. It was the same for the third, fourth, and fifth defeat. It was not until the fifth defeat that all the negative emotions within Qi Jiguang began to disperse. He realized that this must have been how the opponents he faced felt when matched against him.
It was his first time experiencing it himself, therefore, it was a new feeling. But, instead of letting it completely consume him, by the sixth fight, the hatred in his eyes had disappeared and it was replaced by a calm expression. It was during this fight that Izroth had uttered his first words. He had actually started to give Qi Jiguang pointers! By the seventh fight, the flame had finally lit in Qi Jiguang's eyes.
"Watch your left side, you ignore it every time you strike with a kick."
"Your guard is lacking. If you can't attack properly, then at least defend properly."
"Your right hand is..."
As Qi Jiguang listened to Izroth's pointers, he quickly adapted them into his own fighting style and he could feel himself evolving rapidly over the course of their matches. Even the duration of the matches were increasing. However, Qi Jiguang noticed that the more he improved, the stronger Izroth seemed to become. It was as if Izroth was purposely adjusting his skill level during each fight!
Out of 49 matches, Izroth had not lost a single time. Even still, Qi Jiguang had not managed to land one solid hit.
"We should stop this already, I'll-" Mirage said with a slightly gloomy expression on her face. Although she was not the one fighting, she felt that enough was enough. At this rate, Qi Jiguang may end up quitting RML altogether! However, she was interrupted by Omega. He had spoken for the first time since the first match had started.
"Don't interfere. Otherwise, he'll never forgive you. Also, I won't forgive you either." Omega stated in a serious tone.
"Do you enjoy watching your friend constantly lose? What's wrong with you? How can you just stand there and not say a word?" Mirage questioned in a slightly angered tone. She felt that Omega should be the one caring the most about this, not her!
"Just keep watching and you'll see." Omega said.
Mirage was dumbfounded by Omega's words. See? What was there to see? This was a one-sided beating!
"Izroth is even more of a monster than I originally thought. I'm afraid even the old man is not his match. Having that much skill at such a young age, how terrifying. It's difficult to believe that he's someone unknown in the martial arts world. However, Qi Jiguang isn't called the prodigy of the martial arts world for nothing. I believe in him." Omega stated.
Mirage and Midnight had a surprised expression on their face.
During the 50th match, it was 10-1 with Izroth on his way to another victory. However, just as Izroth struck out, Qi Jiguang suddenly threw his entire body forward and shifted the position of his feet. Izroth reacted quickly and braced himself for the impact as he called off his attack. But, something completely unexpected happened at the last second.
Qi Jiguang index finger pierced right in between Izroth's arms inside of the near nonexistent gap! It was similar to a skill Izroth used when breaking through defenses, however, the shocking part was that he had never once used it around Qi Jiguang. It was a very rough version of his Fissuring Point!
Qi Jiguang's index finger made the slightest contact with Izroth's chest, but Izroth managed to reduce the momentum of the attack. Although Izroth avoided a critical hit, Qi Jiguang's attack was still able to touch him. In other words, he had successfully landed a hit on Izroth!
Omega grinned as he witnessed Qi Jiguang land his first strike!
Mirage and Midnight were shocked. 50 matches... It took 50 matches, but Qi Jiguang had actually done it!
'Oh? This one's interesting. Though, I think that's enough dueling for one day.'
Izroth's fist swiftly struck Qi Jiguang directly in his stomach. This strike sent him back and crashing into the ground.
Qi Jiguang laid on his back with a large grin on his face as he looked up towards the sky and said, "I hit you, Izroth."
The results of the 50th match? 9-0. Although it was Izroth's victory, to Qi Jiguang, it was a victory in its own way.