With the third strongest participant of the Heavens' Will going on stage, Xuehua lost.
However, despite losing, there wasn’t a single bruise in her entire body as she managed to defend herself completely, though her attacks did not work.
Moreover, everyone knew that this was merely the result of being in the sect for a short time and being in a small association.
Xuehua did not receive enough time to cultivate that many techniques and her association could not afford to buy her an excellent weapon that suited her perfectly.
It was already amazing she could defend herself without getting hurt.
When Xuehua reached them, everyone congratulated her.
Still, it did not seem like she felt any pride or joy from winning, and it felt as if she was not even concerned with it.
Nonetheless, when Yueshi extended his arm in the air, she slapped it while laughing softly. Then, with hands still touching where the high-five connected, Yueshi gave a pure smile, too.
Just like that, it was as if the two had once more entered a world of their own, leaving the others to shake their heads and roll their eyes.
After a while, they stopped wasting time and looked toward their next participant.
Ling Tian Tian was paying them no attention as she glared at the one on stage, clearly brimming with endless fighting intent.
Amongst them, she was the one that hated losing the most, and the one that loved triumphing against strong opponents the most, too.
However, just as she was making her way up with a serious face, she faltered.
"Tian Tian, I love you!" Such cries echoed here and there, with the loudest and most attention-drawing one belonging to Yuanzhi.
Why? She wondered. Why it had to be her?
The proud association head of the top association in the outer court… yet, he seemed to pay no heed to his bearing as he confessed his love aloud.
The maiden hearts of a few girls in the audience were broken as they found out that Yuanzhi was not as elegant and aloof as they had believed him to be.
What could she do, however?
Ignoring such shouts to the best of her abilities, she continued to make her way there. Tian Tian could feel the eyes of Yueshi and the others on her back, all cheering her on.
Inwardly, she once more vowed to not lose – this time not merely for herself, but also for their sake too.
Since she entered the sect… no, since she entered the Soaring Dragon Association, she had been slowly changing.
From the prideful and aloof ice beauty that she had been, to someone that cared about those around her.
Was it because this was the first time she had friends?
There was once someone she had been friends with, though just one.
However, thinking about that only brought out unpleasant memories she’d like to forget.
After shaking her head, she focused on her opponent. The past was gone, and she had to leave it behind; right now, she had things she had to do, and had no time to lose herself in reminiscence.
When she positioned herself and took her sword out, the judge asked them if they were ready to fight
None of them wanted to waste time as they nodded immediately and with the same tempo.
“Then, start!” The man’s voice echoed in their ears, and the two immediately moved from their spot.
Tian Tian immediately used a footwork technique, her figure disappearing every time her feet touched the ground.
Her trajectory was just as erratic as Li Yun’s had been, and she seemed to appear at a couple of different spots at the same time.
However, her opponent remained unworried by her speed and analyzed her with great focus.
Long Wan'er was talented and experienced, and she would not lose her mind as Li Yun did. Then, while she was waiting, her eyes suddenly brightened, her weapon immediately lashing out.
Her whip flew like a snake and it made the air screech as tore through it easily.
Suddenly, with a snap and crack, it hit against something in her left. Looking over, she smiled seeing Tian Tian sending her whip flying to the side with a slash of her sword.
The young girl looked at her coldly, but she could see the disappointment in her eyes.
Long Wan’er guessed it had to do with her being found out, which implied that her footwork training was lacking - after all, that was how Tian Tian’s personality was.
Seeing that her footwork technique would not work, Ling Tian Tian abandoned the idea of fishing for an opening before sending a single, strong strike in.
In the first place, it had only been a test, since she preferred much more to confront her opponents head-on, slashing anything that obstructed her way.
Stepping forth, instead of the erratic movements from before, she became like a shooting start as she moved forward with extreme speed.
Long Wan’er also became more serious, knowing that the true battle was going to start now.
With a shake of her hand, her whip came flashing in toward Tian Tian, however, the young girl merely arched forward, almost kissing the ground to dodge.
Yet, despite her body arching so much she seemed to defy the laws of physic as she continued to move forward unimpeded.
Narrowing her eyes, Long Wan’er started to retreat so to maintain the distance between them.
Her whip was, after all, not meant to close distance fights. During that time, she also did not stop attacking.
“Heavenly Slash!” This was one of the most basic techniques in the Cultivation Tower.
However, being a basic technique did not mean it was weak and, with it being made to be used with a blade, Long Wan’er showcased her talent adapting it to her whip.
As her words echoed, her whip glowed with a soft white color, and as she lashed toward Tian Tian once more – this time in a diagonal movement – a blade made of qi was released by her weapon.
However, that was not the end; as the whip danced around it changed directions and took on a new trajectory.
From one side, the white, long blade made of qi descended toward Tian Tian; from the other, Long Wan’er attacked with her whip, lasing toward her opponent like a snake lunging forward to devour its prey.
Tian Tian remained unperturbed, though, as she was not the sort to get anxious or worried in the middle of a battle.
Preparing her sword, she slashed toward the qi blade with fluid movements, her sword glowing with a red glow as it moved forth, before releasing a streak of flames that flew forward with extreme speed.
The two attacks clashed in mid-air as she somersaulted in the air dodging the lash of the whip.
And just as Long Wan'er was preparing to lash out at her again, Tian Tian tapped her feet on the air – with a boom, the air exploded under her feet as she was pushed forward with even greater speed than before.
“Ten Thousand Snakes Domain.” Seeing Tian Tian approaching so fast, Long Wan’er immediately used another technique.
She had managed to win against Xuehua mainly because of Xuehua’s lack of techniques. Now, against Tian Tian that had learned a few even before joining the sect, she was having some troubles.
As Long Wan’er whip approached Tian Tian, it coiled around the latter with extreme speed before closing in, trying to bind her.
However, there was no way she'd accept it and stay idle. With another tap of her feet, the air exploded once more, launching her forward. However, this move did not come without a price.
The 'air steps' were a footwork technique that allowed one to use the air as a stepping board to move. However, it not only required a great deal of energy but also placed a great burden on one's legs.
Such burden was nothing to those at the later stages of the Body Refinement Realm, however, for Tian Tian, it was still a bit painful.
Her beautiful brows arched into a frown, but she did not voice it out. She was never one to let others know she was in pain or uncomfortable, even more so during a fight.
“Heavenly Guard!” Long Wan’er could only sigh seeing that the speed of her technique was slower than Tian Tian’s.
However, she did not delve into it for long, immediately activating a defensive technique. “Thousand Blossoms.” However, feeling as if it was not enough, she used yet another one.
People had to recognize Long Wan’er was also a genius. Using two techniques at the same time seemed simple, but required one to multi-task, often leading to a loss of power and efficiency.
However, the young woman could do so without losing anything, showing how great her potential was.
The first defensive technique, ‘Heavenly Guard’, formed a simple, protective dome around her.
The second, the 'Thousand Blossoms' was more charming and more aesthetically beautiful. Instead of a plain barrier, the qi formed a defensive guard in the form of a blossoming lotus.
Each petal was large and despite its immateriality seemed to brim with life, like a true flower blossoming in the middle of a garden, full of splendor and charm.
It had to be noted, though, that those that only thought about the technique's beauty would end committing a great mistake.
This beautiful lotus was not only more resistant than the Heavenly Guard; it also required one to destroy all its petals if he or she wanted to break the defensive barrier
And this was not even the complete technique; it was rumored that at its peak the lotus would not only be a means of defense but, also, attack.
Even Tian Tian seemed annoyed for a moment. If she spent too much energy in this fight she would need to go down and rest, and she was sure she would not have another chance to fight, then.
However, apparently, she had no other choice.
‘Sword and self as one! One sword slash divides Heavens and Earth!’ Her body resonated with the sword, her eyes growing increasingly sharper.
Then, she made another move. "Ten thousand swords split the skies!" Her voice boomed like an explosion, reaching regions far away.
Then, for a moment, Long Wan’er felt the sun disappear from her vision as she looked toward the young girl.
It was as if she could see tens of thousands of swords falling from the heavens and threatening to pierce and slash her apart, making her heart shudder in fear as death encroached upon her.
However, in reality, the ten thousand swords were immaterial attacks released with the help of qi. Yet, trembling in fear, Long Wan’er could not bring herself to understand that.
Booming explosions resonated for a while as the formless qi stuck against the barriers like swords stabbing at their opponents.
Meanwhile, Tian Tian plunged from the sky toward the barriers, the aura around her equal to that of a sharp sword prepared to cut the heavens and earth, even if she had to slash apart the myriad existences.
In the middle of the raging, sword-like qi, she looked like an immortal Sword Goddess one could only look from afar.
With proud and cold eyes, and with a sword in hand, she was an almighty monarch overlooking everyone from the skies!
This was Ling Tian Tian's path of the sword!
One that pursued extremely overbearingness, one that would place her above the heavens as an absolute monarch!
The cracking of the barriers and the sound of them shattering seemed to echo at the same moment.
The dust had not even settled yet when everyone saw Long Wan’er being sent flying out of the stage.
Everyone thought she was lucky, for there did not seem to be any deep wounds on her body.
As the dust settled, however, everyone sucked a breath of cold hair. It was not that Long Wan’er was lucky; it was just that Ling Tian Tian was not crazy.
A deep gash had been left on the stone pavement by her last attack, cutting the bricks from where Long Wan’er was standing all the way to the edge of the arena.
Everyone wondered if this was still the main arena that most of them thought was unbreakable.
They were sure that Ling Tian Tian had gone easy on her opponent by then.
Even if Long Wan’er was able to take on this strike without dying, chances were that she would have lost a member, maybe even two.
Such a conclusion made everyone question who had been in the sect for longer.
Weren’t the seniors supposed to be stronger than the newcomers? Alas, once more, the Soaring Dragon Association was proving such affirmation wrong!
“Tian Tian, I want to have your babies!” Just as everyone was deep in thought, a male voice shouted from the middle of the viewing crowd.
Everyone rolled their eyes at that person, almost as if thinking 'do you think such a goddess will get together with an extra like you' or something along those lines.
They did not even notice that they found it perfectly reasonable the way the person phrased his words.
At the clamor and shouts, Tian Tian faltered and felt the urge to just stab them all. However, she knew she could not do that, after all, the sect's rules still existed, unfortunately.
Then, she glanced toward the Heavens' Will members, before making her way down the stage.
She wanted to continue there and fight a bit more, but she had consumed a fair deal of energy.
Moreover, she had to give the others a chance to fight too. It was only a pity such a chance like this would not easily come by again…
‘Wait…’ Suddenly, her eyes darted somewhere, her gaze interlocking with someone else’s. ‘Hm. I must find him later to spar.’ Nodding, her disappointment disappeared in a puff of smoke.
The other party, Yuanzhi, grinned.
He hadn't, like the rumors said, fallen head over heels for Tian Tian. Still, if he said he felt nothing when seeing the young, beautiful, and talented girl, he would be lying.
Moreover, her personality was much to his liking, so he seriously wanted to know her more.
That was the reason for his innumerable advances and attempts at catching her attention and approaching her. Even his earlier shout had been because of that.
He just didn’t expect that their exchange of glances meant different things to both of them.
While he saw her glace as a showcase of her interest, Tian Tian was merely looking at him as a suitable training partner to vent her disappointment for not being able to fight more.
However, in a way, he had earned the chance he had been asking for.