When Yueshi and the others received a letter saying that the Heavens' Will accepted the challenge, they were beyond happy.
Baiyun was put in charge of settling how the bets would work and the day of the confrontation, as no one else was good at working with people and setting deals like him.
That aside, the sun eventually started to leave the sky as everyone took a moment to rest and commemorate.
What they were commemorating? Obviously, it was Yueshi's and Yuan Yue's return, and as everyone drunk and chatted they soon forgot about the bastards from the Heavens' Will.
“So, how many points did you earn with the task this time?” While they were sitting in couches arranged in a cycle, Baiyun asked a question that had been plaguing them for a while.
Yueshi and Yuan Yue exchanged glances before looking at them smugly.
"Nothing much, nothing much~" Yuan Yue smiled slightly while lifting her nose toward the skies, like those proud peacocks. "It was just three thousand or so points."
Everyone immediately rolled their eyes at her words. They were almost all dirt poor right now, and three thousand points was a lot no matter how they saw it.
Did she feel good teasing them like this?
However, before they could even finish that thought, they took another hit.
“Right, right. Our results were merely so-so.” Yueshi moved his head up and down like a baby chicken, agreeing with her. “Ah! I only got a bit more, around four thousand, I think.”
The rest immediately decided to ignore those two hateful guys.
Honestly, though, not even Yueshi and Yuan Yue expected to earn so much from this single mission. However, they were awarded a lot of points for killing the stage six Frostbite Ape Queen.
Moreover, all the beasts they killed on their way to the Frostbite Apes Territory and on their way to Glory City increased their kill count too.
The result was that they reaped a fairly good amount of points, though the two of them would probably spend everything in one or two months.
Under the effect of alcohol, the playful annoyance the group felt toward the two rich scums soon passed.
Baiyun, the most outspoken, then turned toward Yueshi.
"Boss, I almost forgot to tell you~" Laughing foolishly, he glanced toward Tian Tian. "Last month, hundreds of guys crowded around to confess their love toward our miss over here."
At his words, Ling Tian Tian flinched, even this training maniac seemed to feel embarrassed by what happened.
Her eyes immediately darted toward the ceiling as she did not dare to look others in the face, meanwhile, she made a mental note to stab Baiyun later – something she was quite good at doing.
“Right, right! You can’t even imagine who led them all!” Yuyi immediately commented.
The younger twin sister really loved gossips. Before Yueshi could even say anything, she shouted the answer.
"It was Bai Yuanzhi! He seemed to have fallen head over heels in love!"
Tian Tian immediately glared at the two, only for them to burst into laughter.
Sighing with a deponent look, she could only let the two of them be. However, Yueshi noted, she did not seem as annoyed as she implied and, instead, she seemed to like the current atmosphere.
Yueshi was a bit surprised, but, soon digested it. It wasn't really hard to understand – Tian Tian was a beauty, moreover, she was talented and also determined.
For those proud geniuses like the leader of the Starlight Association, she was the best partner they could ask for.
Seeing her aggrieved look, Yueshi could understand how she felt.
More likely than not, she was more annoyed by it than pleased; at the same time, it was refreshing to see her showing such an innocent side instead of the cold mask she always wore.
He was not sure about the motive, but she was much friendlier than when they first met. The last two months in the association seemed to have softened her heart a bit as she slowly started to open herself up a bit.
Unfortunately, her relationship with Yuan Yue was still a bit on the cold side.
Like that, they continued to merrily drink and chat, letting their worries and concerns go away.
That night, even the most aloof members - namely Xiao Yao and Yueli - became drunk enough the spell nonsense and bullshit, particularly so the first.
Yueshi was sure this was a memory he would remember with fondness in the future.
And, before anyone noticed, they had already fallen asleep right there.
The following day things would be a busy one, but for now, they were just like ordinary youths enjoying their lives – something Yueshi himself never had the chance to do on Earth.
With the scrolls having been passed from hand to hand and with words of it spreading like wildfire, the battle between the two associations soon became a hot topic of the entire outer court, every disciple talking about it.
The inner disciple examination was cool and all, but most of them did not care too much about it.
For most, the inner court was something they would never have a chance to take a glimpse of. Instead, the confrontation between the two associations was more exciting.
The tyrant of the outer court, the Heavens Will Association, was challenged for the first time in years. Even if the Soaring Dragon Association was just a new association, everyone was still waiting for it with great anticipation.
However, while the entire outer court was boiling like molten magma, Yueshi was calmly going through the same routine he had before leaving the last task.
He would train in the morning, eat lunch with Xuehua mid-day, train in the evening, eat a snack with Yuan Yue and Xuehua, and then accompany one of the two girls to chat during the night.
It was a routine that lacked excitement; however, for him, it was not boring at all. Chatting and accompanying the two girls was particularly relaxing and enjoyable…
Or so it should have been, but today, Yueshi faced a calamity, or so he defined it.
"You and Yuan Yue seem closer than ever." During their after-meal chat, Xuehua spoke so with a casual tone. Yet, he could feel cold sweat drenching his back for some motive.
At that instant, a myriad of excuses flashed past his mind while he pondered about how to answer.
He was honestly scared, though he was not sure exactly of what… maybe it was because it felt like he was cheating on her, and now he was facing her interrogatory?
But then, he metaphorically shook his head in derision. How could he cheat on her when he was no more than her little brother? He was really placing himself too high on the ladder.
“The truth is that…” What were the right words to say? He pondered for a moment. Then, he just decided to be honest as he did not want to lie to her. “Some complicate things happened and now we are, somehow, dating.” His voice sounded like a whisper as he said so.
A clacking and crisp sound echoed, catching his attention.
Looking over, he saw that Xuehua had left a spoon fall while washing the dishes, though she was already in the process of picking it up.
Yueshi heart seemed to leap out of his chest.
Was she so shocked with the news because her feelings were not as simple as they seemed? As he wondered so, he heard a soft mutter.
"He is growing so fast…" That was what she said.
It was almost as if his heart was being stepped on, and he felt the urge to knock his head against the table.
In truth, that was exactly what he did, the soft thump drawing Xuehua’s attention. Seeing him like that, she tilted her head as if in confusion.
However, strange emotions seemed to flash past her eyes.
All sorts of feelings mixed in her brown pupils and gave her a melancholic vibe. She could feel it, not just by instinct or through logic, but with her heart and soul.
They were steadily growing apart, and she felt that there would come a day when they would no more stand by each other's side like they used to.
Just the thought of it was enough to make her stomach churn and her heartache… she did not want that.
Then, with her gently shaking hands, she softly patted his head, just like she had done many times in the past.
Rustling his hair, she managed to calm down a bit; she would think about it when the time for that came. For now, she would do her best to be a good elder sister.
Like that, time continued to flow.
The day of the confrontation was going to arrive soon, and Yueshi decided to exert himself and try to push his spear arts to the next level.
Right now, he was extremely close to grasping it, however, no matter how much he pondered about his martial arts, he could not see what he was lacking and how he could cross the threshold.
For that, the best place was none other than the Thousand Deities Refining Pagoda.
There were few disciples in the sect in the second realm of martial arts, and most of them were inner disciples, so this was the only place Yueshi could find a suitable sparring partner.
“Bring me someone in the late phase of the fourth stage of the Body Refinement Realm that has achieved the second realm of spear arts.” His voice resonated in the endless darkness of the pagoda.
Not even an instant later, the familiar voice answered. "Your opponent has been chosen. Fifty contribution points have been deducted for the cultivation stage, another fifty for the second realm of martial arts, and an extra twenty to attend to your specification."
Yueshi could only give an awry smile. Just like that, one hundred and twenty points had been spent.
The four thousand he earned would be spent in no time this way, but, thankfully, he planned to make some high bets during the challenge. When they won, he wouldn’t need to worry about that for a while.
"Your opponent shall be... Northern Wang's Second Prince, Wang Xizhu." At the familiar yet unfamiliar words, Yueshi opened his eyes wide in surprise.
‘It is as if there is some sort of strange fate between me and Northern Wang.’ While he was thinking so, the scenery around him changed.
He now stood in a snowy region with peaks that reached out for the sky.
Standing in the middle of the snow, he could see a blond young man standing forty or so meters away from him.
For some motive, his impression of the young man was not as deep as the one he had from the third prince, however, he did not underestimate him.
Yueshi was sure that he was also a proud genius from that era, though he had not lived there and could not be sure.
Then, through the golden locks, two pair of placid eyes gazed at Yueshi.
They were not only cold, but completely lifeless, as if Wang Xizhu had no emotions in his heart – they were like the cold and ever-falling snow, cruel and merciless, but also untainted and spotless.
After a single exchange of eyes, the two had already observed their opponent for long enough.
Wang Xizhu was the first to move, and as his feet tapped on the ground, he flew tens of meters forward with matchless speed; however, Yueshi was not afraid and immediately charged forth with no weaker momentum.
He did not bother wasting time on judging his opponent's ability as the pressure of death was oftentimes a great help in breaking through; here, however, the lack of such pressure was of an even bigger aid.
Knowing he was not going to die, he could fight freely and without concerns, focusing completely on the now and in the fight, as well as in himself, his moves, and his comprehension.
And that was exactly what Yueshi did, his mind completely forgetting about everything else as he gazed at the two, deep eyes of his opponent.
"Man and spear as one! One point of extremity carves a path of blood and carnage!" His spear trailed forth without making a single sound, almost as if it was a completely ordinary strike.
However, the Second Prince’s eyes turned more serious than before, as he too thrust forward.
They say that when two dragons meet, they are bound to clash.
And they also say that a mountain cannot hold two tigers.
When geniuses stand in front of each other, they are bound to feel the desire to fight - that was even more so when they are proud and confident in themselves – it was almost like a natural instinct and universal truth.
Yueshi's spear thrust had successfully shown the second prince of Northern Wang that this was not just an ordinary man, but also a proud dragon. As cold and apathetic as he was, he was still not able to hold back.
“Heart and spear as one…”