"Eh?" Tianyi exclaimed at Dong Chifan's sudden declaration.
The eyes of the disciples became unkind at Dong Chifan's challenge. Did he really think that just because no one wanted to tangle with him that he could openly challenge a Nascent Soul Realm disciple despite only being a Core Formation loose cultivator? And not just any Nascent Soul Realm disciple but the current shining prodigy who became a Nascent Soul Grandmaster at twenty.
"Preposterous!" The first to speak wasn't Tianyi but a Core Formation disciple from the Buzhou Immortal Sect. "Do you really think no one dares to challenge you? We couldn't stand your inappropriate conduct. Even if you claimed the number one position among Core Formation Masters, this is just a mere spar, not a tournament. What right do you have to challenge Prince Xi? If you are seeking humiliation, I don't mind playing with you!"
The Core Formation Master jumped onto the arena and pointed her sword at Dong Chifan. She looked to be a young girl in her mid to late teens with long black hair tied into two buns atop her head. Her white face was flushed red with anger, but no one could feel any threat from her because her face was too non-threatening. Even angry, one could only see a puppy barking harmlessly.
"Hmpf, very well. Once I defeat you and anyone who disagrees, then no one will stop me, right?" Dong Chifan said. Although the girl looked non-threatening, Dong Chifan still felt the aura of a Peak Core Formation Master from her.
"Say that after you defeat me. " With her sword still in hand, she clasped her hands together and spoke coldly. "Buzhou Immortal Sect's Jian Wuyan, please give me pointers."
"Loose cultivator, Dong Chifan." Dong Chifan also clasped his hands in response.
Tianyi felt his lips twitch at the sudden change in procedures. He hadn't even spoken yet, but someone had already stepped up to defend his honors. If this were a novel, then Jian Wuyan would definitely be the warmup before the main attraction.
"That girl," Tianyi turned around to see Su Wanyu close her eyes in a defeated manner.
"Senior Sister, you have a close relationship with Junior Sister Jian?" Tianyi asked, quite curious of what could have elicited such a response from Su Wanyu.
"My mother and her mother are bosom friends." Tianyi nodded. It wasn't too surprising for the children to be friends if their parents were friends as well. "She's a good girl, just that..."
Tianyi felt the urge to scrutinized himself due to the queer look Su Wanyu was giving him.
"She greatly admires Grand Elder Xi. It isn't just her, but her mother, Elder Jian as well. I heard she has a library filled with stories and tales of Grand Elder Xi's accomplishments. Even her name, Jian Wuyan, was because of Grand Elder Xi. Sword Never Rising, in other words, no sword will surpass Grand Elder Xi while she exists."
"R-really?" Tianyi felt himself a bit shaken by the news. "But Dong Chifan just challenged me, it has nothing to do with my mother."
Su Wanyu gave Tianyi a look of pity. "Her admiration of Grand Elder Xi extends to everything related to her. Not just you, it even extends to places she meditated before. I believe she calls Jade Peak the greatest Holy Ground of the Buzhou Immortal Sect. Any slight, imagined or otherwise, against Grand Elder Xi is enough for her to chop the offender in two."
"I-I see," Tianyi said, not expecting Jian Wuyan to have such admiration for his mother. Now that he thought about it, wasn't this the girl that was staring at him and his mother while they were talking a walk with that heated gaze?
Dong Chifan frowned as he used his forearm to block Jian Wuyan's sword strike. A loud metallic sound rang as the sword scraped against his bare arms.
Ever since the match had started, he had been on the defensive.
Jian Wuyan seemed like a delicate girl with her short stature and child-like features, but every move of hers went against that very image. She moved like a raging beast that had abandoned all concept of defense. Every sword swing seemed to be able to shatter the delicate sword in her hand like glass.
Dong Chifan wasn't overthinking this. Jian Wuyan was, indeed, going all out in offense. It was as if she didn't care for her life and that Dong Chifan was her hated archenemy who had exterminated all nine generations of her family.
As a loose cultivator without any support, Dong Chifan wasn't blessed with resources like these descendants born with silver spoons in their mouths. Had it not been for his fortuitous encounter with an Immortal's inheritance, Dong Chifan would have lost his life years ago.
The cultivation technique he attained allowed him to alter his body to be akin to the World Piercing Mammoth Boar. According to legend, it was called so because the beast had two tusks that allowed it to pierce the spatial fabric of realms and worlds.
But Dong Chifan was originally human, so in order to strengthen his martial body, he had to devour countless beasts. The inheritance he had attained also covered this and allowed him to become an immortal chef and create many dishes unknown to the Huang Realm and strengthen his body. Currently, his whole body was akin to a pseudo Core Formation Realm Artifact, while his two arms and hands were like Peak Core Formation Realm Artifact weapons.
Unlike many of the cultivators here, Dong Chifan didn't have a Lifebound Artifact because he did not have the necessary resources to forge one for his Core Formation Heavenly Tribulation. But his two arms were more than enough.
With a roar, Dong Chifan swiped his arms outward horizontally. He caused Jian Wuyan to fly backward with such great force that Jian Wuyan had to impale her sword into the ground to stop her momentum, leaving behind a deep gash in the arena.
Even the people outside the arena felt the incredible force behind the blow due to the turbulent winds generated from Dong Chifan's swipe.
Jian Wuyan stood back up, her back swamped from her sweat. Her face was pale, and the only reason she hadn't spat out blood was because she had forcibly suppressed it. No matter what she did, she was unable to break Dong Chifan's defense. He was always able to position his arms in front of her strikes. As for using anything but her sword, that would be a crime against everything she stood for!
As a (self-proclaimed) disciple of Sword Empress Xi, it would be an insult to use anything but a sword.
Jian Wuyan glanced at her spatial ring. The weapon she was most proficient in was also a sword, but it was a colossal sword that resembled more of a giant blade-shaped bludgeon and was the complete inverse of the delicate crystalline blade in her hand. It was naturally modeled after Sword Empress Xi's sword, of course.
If she brought it out, her pride would be hurt and stray from her perfection. But Dong Chifan, that ugly toad dared to dream of eating swan meat, had committed an unforgivable sin of the greatest offense!
Jian Wuyan paused. Wait, it seemed that the idiom she used was a bit off. Jian Wuyan shrugged; it was something to ponder over later. Right now, her objective was to teach this rude man a lesson.
Having made up her mind, Jian Wuyan replaced the delicate sword in her hand with a giant sword-mace. She effortlessly raised it above her hand with both hands and moved into a stance, ready to strike down the infidel in front of her.
She ignored the startled looks as the spectators took in the contrast of a petite girl like her wielding such a barbaric weapon.
She ignored her friends, who had never seen her used the sword-mace.
Jian Wuyan only had eyes on her objective, the offender of all that was sacred.
With a mighty roar, not one bit inferior to the Dong Chifan released moments ago, Jian Wuyan leaped towards her foe. Her whole body exuded the pressure of a brutal beast.
Dong Chifan felt as if the air around him hammered down on him as if to nail down in place. But even if it didn't, he would have moved away. A contest of strength was the thing that Dong Chifan was least afraid of.
Jian Wuyan brought her sword down like an avalanche burying the mountains. Dong Chifan could see nothing but the broad edge of the sword coming down upon him and Jian Wuyan's eyes that only had white in them.
Sigils that seemed to contain some obtuse laws began to glow and cover Dong Chifan's fist as he clenched his left fist and punched upwards. It was a simple punch that contained all of his concentrated force at a single point. Yet that simple punch had a momentum greater than any avalanche and seemed to be able to reverse the sky from collapsing.
It was a clash of two opposing forces, one of heavenly might dictating calamities, the other the will of man to oppose the very heaven's itself. When the two met, the very air rippled from the contact point and caused a deafening sonic explosion. Had it not been for the formation to prevent any stray attacks from leaving the arena, then the weaker spectators would have been blown away. Rather than clash from two Core Formation Masters, it resembled something more of a clash between early Nascent Soul Grandmasters.
The connection lasted but a moment, but the winner was clear the next second as Jiang Wuyan was sent flying out of the arena, her sword-mace was dented and bent from Dong Chifan's punch.
Copious amounts of blood spurted from Jian Wuyan's mouth. She was Spiritual Peak Core Formation Master, so her body was naturally weaker than a Martial Peak Core Formation Master like Dong Chifan. She could feel that several of her bones were already shattered, and many of her internal organs were ruptured.
Jian Wuyan finally regretted it.
She regretted pouring all her resources into making the crystalline sword and crudely forging her sword-mace. Had she not, then she wouldn't have been beaten back so easily and lose face for her idol, Sword Empress Xi.
On quaking legs, Jian Wuyan stood back up, intent on returning to the stage. She was fighting in Sword Empress Xi's name; losing was not allowed. Either she won or died!
The determination was evident on her face. No one could turn away from her decision.
"Junior Sister Jian," The voice was soft and gentle, giving the hearer a delight in just listening.
Jian Wuyan turned her eyes, which had regained their colors, towards the speaker and froze. Why? Because Tianyi was standing in front of her with a slight smile.
"P-P-Prince Xi!" Jian Wuyan bashfully looked down, only to freeze in horror as she realized what state she was in. In a flurry of motion, she quickly put away her sword-mace and tidied her clothes, making sure to clean the blood off. "What can I help you with?"
Tianyi, who watched this with frozen surprise, couldn't help but release a strained chuckle. Su Wanyu had told him that he was the only one who could stop Jian Wuyan from fighting to the death, and so, Tianyi stepped down to stop her.
Although she was unrelated to him, it would weigh on his conscience for her to die for him because of such a minor matter.
"No need to be so formal. You can just call me senior brother." Tianyi said. "I'm here to thank you for standing up for me, but I'm actually quite interested in this Dong Chifan, so could you allow me to spar with him?"
Jian Wuyan showed an unwilling expression before it quickly morphed into one of horror as she held her head in despair. "I'm soooo sorry. I didn't realize I was making it harder for you. Please take my head as punishment."
"Stop, stop! No need to go that far." Tianyi desperately said, stopping the girl from chopping her head off in repentance. "I enjoyed your match with Dong Chifan. Especially your last move, unfortunately, your sword was sub-par; otherwise, the outcome would be up in the air."
Jian Wuyan giggled and smiled at Tianyi's praise with a flush face before quickly paling again. When Tianyi was about to ask what's wrong, Jian Wuyan spat blood out of her mouth again, onto Tianyi's robes.
Jian Wuyan watched in horror at her actions, again. She kowtowed in front of Tianyi. "I'm sorry, please behead me for my sins."
"...stand up. Rather than that, shouldn't you heal yourself first?" Tianyi said as he picked Jian Wuyan up, his heart feeling tired.
"You're so kind, Prince Xi! As expected of the son of the exalted Sword Empress!"
Tianyi just stuffed a Concealed Vitality Pill into her hand. "Here, use this."
"KYAAAHHHH!" I'm holding Prince Xi's hand!!! I can die with regrets now!"
"Just hurry up and use it!" Tianyi said, finally unable to stand it any longer.
"Yes! I will treasure it with my life! I will make it a family heirloom that is to be handed to all future generations!"
This isn't admiration, this is fanaticism!
Tianyi wanted to raise his hand in the air in an "I give up" gesture, but with a conviction of a man saving the world, he stopped himself. He took out another pill and directly through it in her mouth before walking up the arena.
"Daoist Dong, we meet again. I am Xi Tianyi; sorry for the wait. There was a little trouble." Tianyi said, his voice slightly hollow from the encounter with the fanatic.
Dong Chifan showed a surprise at meeting Tianyi again. "So it was Daoist Xi. I did not recognize you. Please give me a few pointers."
Saying so, Dong Chifan took a fighting pose as sigils covered both his hands.
"If I can, if I can," Tianyi said as he gestured for Dong Chifan to make the first move, acting every bit like a senior of a higher realm.
"An ugly toad dreaming of eating swan meat" typically refers to an ugly man wanting to marry a beautiful woman.
As for the sword-mace, imagine the Bartbatos Lupus's Sword-Mace from Iron-Blooded Orphans.