The old man wore a green Daoist robe. He was none other than the Zhen Ling Side Hall’s dean, Core Forging Realm Enlightened Master Xuan Yong.
Enlightened Master Xuan Yong had the appearance of a friendly and amiable neighborhood grandfather, and he was highly respected by the master immortals and the disciples. Standing beside him in the center of the arena were two middle-aged cultivators wearing Daoist robes.
Enlightened Master Xuan Yong smiled and said, “Master immortals, your merits are undeniable when it comes to the disciples’ achievements!”
The master immortals quickly bowed and thanked him for the praise.
Then, Xuan Yong pointed to the two beside him and said, “I assume you must know them. But the disciples don’t know who they are yet, so they should still introduce themselves.”
Afterward, he continued to point toward the slender cultivator on his left and said, “This is Enlightened Master Xuan Su.”
Then, he pointed to the red-faced cultivator on his left and said, “This is Enlightened Master Xuan Ce.”
The disciples were shocked to learn that they were both Enlightened Masters!
After all, how could the disciples not be shocked and excited? It was already a rare event in their lives to see Dean Enlightened Master Xuan Yong, who was also the side hall’s one and only Core Forging Realm cultivator.
Most of the disciples could only see him during the five-year competition. And now, there were three Enlightened Masters that came for the competition this year. If they put up an impressive performance in the competition and earned any one of the Enlightened Masters’ interest in taking them as direct disciples, they could immediately become an inner hall disciple! Advancement into the Blood Condensation Realm wouldn’t be a problem anymore!
Lu Ping looked at the three Enlightened Masters on stage and although he was envious of their prowess, he kept a cool head. For the Enlightened Masters to come for just a Grade 2 disciple’s competition, something big must be going on and this year’s competition must have a higher significance!
However, Lu Ping was puzzled—what kind of event could bring the Core Forging Realm Enlightened Masters to this little competition for Blood Refining Realm disciples?
The assignment of matches was carried out in pairs and through drawing lots, and the matches would be held in the eight smaller arenas. The first round in the morning would select the top 128 disciples, and the second round later that afternoon would select the top 64 disciples.
A small protective barrier was raised on the smaller arenas and Lu Ping immediately recognized that they were array formations used to prevent any attacks below the Blood Condensation Realm level from accidentally hurting the crowd.
Every arena was also hosted by a Blood Condensation Realm master immortal.
Enlightened Master Xuan Yong didn’t drag things out and announced the start of the competition right away. Then, the disciples moved towards the center arena and started drawing bamboo lots that were either colored red or blue from a box.
Lu Ping never had the extravagant hope that he could draw the bye lot, but he also didn’t expect to be matched with an Eighth or Ninth Layer senior. After all, more than half of the participants were in the Seventh Layer.
Lu Ping’s first opponent was a mid-stage Seventh Layer disciple from Group 12. He looked younger than Lu Ping, roughly about 15 years old, tall and slender, and had a young but prideful face.
He was only 15 years old and already at mid-stage Seventh Layer, so surely Li Sheng could act loud and proud of himself. Moreover, not only was he more talented than his peers, but he also wasn’t any lazier than the rest. Not just his family but even his group’s master immortal praised that he would have no problem advancing into the Blood Condensation Realm.
There were five talents among the Grade 2 disciples; Group 1’s Lin Sheng, Group 5’s Zhao Lang, Group 7’s Shi Lingling, Group 14’s Leng Qian, and Group 18’s Qian Fei.
The five of them were collectively known as the “Five Talents”. They were famous for entering the Seventh Layer before the age of 14 and were all now in the Eighth and Ninth Layer Blood Refining Realm.
And Li Sheng has always self-proclaimed that he was the sixth “Talent”, just a fine line beneath the “Five Talents”. When he heard that the sect would be increasing the prizes in the competition this year, his family had prepared him a strong low-grade mystic instrument and numerous charms, equipping him with the most and best possible.
Li Sheng himself was also filled with ambition, even thinking that he could defeat his Eighth Layer seniors and even the ordinary Ninth Layer seniors.
Hence, when he found out that his opponent was the ordinary 17-year-old Seventh Layer disciple Lu Ping, he naturally assumed that Lu Ping was just another stepping stone to his success, and he was already the victor.
Lu Ping looked at the young boy and couldn’t help but smile. He pulled out his high-grade mystic weapon and stood in the starting stance of the [Blood Condensation Bone Melting Fist]. He said to Li Sheng, “Junior martial brother, let’s start!”
The moment Li Sheng saw Lu Ping using such a basic sword skill, he immediately knew Lu Ping was an ordinary disciple with no family support. He couldn’t feel even more disdainful.
He pulled out his top-grade mystic weapon like a kid proudly showing off his new toy, and stood in the stance of his family’s skill. He thought, Father said our [Wild Wind 24 Sword Styles] is powerful in the Blood Refining Realm. An ordinary disciple like him might’ve never even heard of it before.
True enough, Lu Ping really hadn’t heard of this skill. But the moment he saw the little cultivator acting like a kid showing off his toys, he couldn’t help wanting to laugh. However, even though he didn’t recognize the sword skill, he still sensed its danger.
Li Sheng’s mystic weapon jabbed out like a flash of white light and Lu Ping instantly felt the arcane energy hidden within as it came for his face. Before the move even hit him, his face was already feeling a painful sensation.
But he was calm in response. He turned around to the side and evaded the incoming attack while at the same time jabbing his sword towards Li Sheng’s wrist.
Li Sheng was unimpressed; he relied on his mystic weapon that was higher in grade and went on to parry Lu Ping’s attack. Meanwhile, his left hand made a hand sign and as he chanted, a fire was ignited above it.
He was waiting to parry Lu Ping’s weapon to the side and expose an opening on the other’s stance, catching him off-guard and striking directly.
However, as the two mystic weapons clashed, Li Sheng felt a wave of strong arcane energy pummeling onto his mystic weapon and the force overpowered his own strength. Not only did he not succeed in parrying Lu Ping’s attack, but he was also even pushed two steps backward to suppress the incoming force.
As a result, his [Burning Fire Spell] was released in the wrong direction and Lu Ping easily evaded it. Then, Lu Ping casually put out the traces of fire from the explosion on the floor with a simple [Clear Wind Spell].
Li Sheng immediately put away his arrogant demeanor. His opponent’s arcane energy was also abundant, almost on par with his own. It looked like this wasn’t going to be an easy battle anymore. However, Li Sheng’s confidence returned when he thought about the equipment in his spatial pouch.
Lu Ping looked at the chip on his high-grade mystic weapon sword and smiled wryly. He had owned this mystic weapon for just three months and used it twice, yet, it already suffered such huge damage.
Li Sheng waved his mystic weapon and struck forward again, casting the [Wild Wind 24 Sword Styles]. His sword strikes were growing faster and fiercer with each consecutive attack, and at the same time, each spell he cast was stronger than the last. Not only that, but he also lashed out a few charms in between his moves as he attacked Lu Ping relentlessly.
One must say, Lu Ping was really flustered defending himself. His opponent’s sword strikes always came for him at the least expected angle, and the spells were simultaneously strong and various in form, like the [Burning Fire Spell], [Frost Ice Spell], [Wind Blade Spell], [Golden Sword Spell], [Humongous Tree Spell], and many more.
Lu Ping finally managed to catch up to the flow of the battle by relying on his solid foundation, but just when he was about to strike back, his opponent would throw out another charm attack. Lu Ping then had to turn back to defend himself again.
He watched as Li Sheng used low-grade and even mid-grade charms as if they were mere pieces of white paper instead of piles of spirit stones each. Lu Ping felt enormously angry for the waste.
Thankfully Li Sheng still hasn’t lost his sanity by treating high-grade charms like scrap paper.
Just when Lu Ping was thinking this to himself, an [Ice Blade Spell] charm exploded in front of him. The huge burst of spiritual energy shocked Lu Ping, who now wanted to slap himself in the face. It was a high-grade charm!
The frosty air from the three crystal-like ice blades was already sending chills down his spine before the blades could even get to him!
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