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Ryu slammed both his glaives into the white tiles below his feet. Their blades sliced through like a hot knife through butter, making a mockery of whatever protections there were meant to be.  

His hand shot forward, tearing a piece of cloth from Tharon’s falling corpse and slowly tying it around the end of one of his glaives.

Ryu looked no different from a savage barbarian, counting his war kills one by one.

His once pristine white hair was covered with a foul mud. His toned torso was exposed to the harsh winds of the mountain top, but it was difficult to see the definition of his muscles hidden beneath those layers of alternating dry and moist grime. Even his face was completely obscured.

If it wasn’t for the baggy, ripped pants of a beggar that coated his lower body, he would have no shred of decency left. But considering the state it was in, maybe it wasn’t doing a very great job either.

However, Ryu didn’t care. Not only did he not care for his own terrible appearance, he didn’t care to defend himself against Tharon’s words. The dead had no right to hold opinions.

‘This is… impossible!’

Lucien, Vygil, and Annbar were all thinking the same thing. The injuries Ryu sustained when last they saw him would have taken even them years to fully recover from. Why did it seem that Ryu was not only fully recovered, but also many times stronger than before?!

Plus, that technique he used to rip his glaives back from Tharon… That was definitely qi! How could a cripple without a Spiritual Foundation use qi?!

“THARON!”

The Patriarch of the Basteel Clan roared out in anger. Even though Tharon had already lost his heir position to his younger brother, this was still his son!

Tharon was still the premier martial talent they had among their younger generation. He might not have been fit to lead, but he would have become a pillar of strength for their Clan nonetheless. He had the highest chance to break into the Immortal Ring Realm in the future.

Yet, he died here, and not even in more than two swift strikes.

“Back down.” Elder Zu’s shrill voice poured cold water over Patriarch Basteel’s rage.

She too was feeling a deep sense of anger, but she couldn’t simply allow just anyone to rush the stage. If she so easily broke rules she herself had set, she would become nothing more than a laughing stock.

Patriarch Basteel’s reddened eyes shifted toward Vygil. The Minn Clan was their backer. Since he couldn’t afford to offend the Zu Clan, he could only plead help.

“Go.” Vygil gestured with his head toward one of his subordinates.

Everyone believed that things would be different this time. Even if Ryu defeated a newly advanced Divine Vessel Realm cultivator, the Divine Vessel Realm was the Divine Vessel Realm, while the Connecting Heaven Realm was the Connecting Heaven Realm. The gap between them was even more exaggerated than Heaven and Earth.

However, the results spoke very differently.

A single instant. Two swings of a glaive. Two bisects of a corpse.

Another cloth was torn from the nameless cultivator’s body only to adorn Ryu’s glaive.

The Minn Clan cultivator’s corpse began to subtly change. Though partially obscured by blood, the now dead man gained pronounced wrinkles that shouldn’t have been possible for a Connecting Heaven Realm expert who was supposedly younger than five hundred years old.

The faces of numerous family elders froze. On one hand, Ryu’s display was too domineering. But, on the other, the shamelessness of the Core Region was now obviously on display.

The host sent by the Core Region’s features noticeably darkened. This Ryu had to die!

“You… You dare kill a member of my Minn Clan?!”  

“This is too cumbersome…” Ryu gripped his glaives.

With a flash, he had already stepped off of the martial platform, appearing before Vygil’s enraged figure in an instant.

To say the Minn Clan second-in-line heir was caught off guard was an understatement. Even though he was making a big show of fighting for the honor of his Clan, he already didn’t dare to face Ryu alone anymore.

Lucien’s eyes flashed. “Do you really think you can do as you please here?”

His sword appeared in his hand, piercing toward Ryu without reservation. His heart was inwardly elated. To think this fool actually gave them a legitimate reason to gang up on him.

“Your sword was already slow back then… and now… it’s even slower…”

Ryu’s glaive arched upward, slicing Lucien’s arm off from his elbow.

A horrible scream filled the mountain peak, but Ryu’s second glaive had already moved on, aiming for Vygil’s head.

It was at that moment that Annbar snapped awake from his surprise, the flaps of his robes whipping open as he rained down needles from afar.

Ryu’s piercing silver eyes casually glanced at the torrential rain of needles.

‘[Demonic Strings].’

With a single thought, dozens of golden strings whipped into the air, attaching themselves to each of the falling needles.

Annbar paled, but there was nothing he could do as the control he once exerted was ripped away from him. A moment later, he was a faced with a rain of his own weapons, his features completely drained of blood as he watched on toward what was inevitably his own death.

Ryu’s glaive hadn’t paused for even a moment, slicing into Vigyl’s shoulder and out of his opposite hip.

His leg kicked outward, shattering the screaming Lucien’s knee and forcing him to kneel to the ground.

In that moment, the thud of his dignity’s fall was accompanied by the collapse of both Vygil and Annbar’s corpses. It hadn’t been more than the blink of an eye, but two second-in-line heirs of the Core Region were slaughtered, and the third was on the cusp of their following their fate.

Lucien’s once handsome face was twisted in fear.

“Y-you… m-m-my brother…”

“Will die just the same.” Ryu spoke plainly as though he was finishing a sentence for him.

Without another word, Ryu’s glaive descended.

However, his glaive was stopped by the most inexplicable of sources. Or, maybe it being this person made the most sense out of anyone.

“You… Have pushed my Loom Clan to the brink of destruction… It’s my mistake to have ever placed my trust in you, and it is something that I will regret for the rest of my life…”

City Lord Loom’s face stared at Ryu, a twisted rage reddening his features.

“I will slaughter you here and clear the name of my Loom Clan of such a stain!”

“Thank you…” Ryu suddenly said, retracting his glaive before it met City Lord Loom’s defenses.

Confusing melded into the City Lord expression, but Ryu’s next words clouded it over in an instant.

PUUU

A bloody hole was pierced through Lucien’s forehead. City Lord Loom could only watch as a dagger with a crystalline blue blade edge swept by him twice, returning to Ryu’s hand and disappearing into his spatial ring as though it never existed.

A Peak Connecting Heaven Realm expert had stepped forward to save someone from a mere eighteen-year-old pup… Yet he had failed.

“… For giving me a reason to pay you back for the humiliation of a year ago.”  

Ryu’s retracted glaive shot forward once more, this time, his strength blooming to another level.

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