Two figures stood inside a lone dojo. One was staring up at the other, crouched at the knees. The standing one had an incredulous expression on his face as he looked down at his 2nd Junior Brother. Only one was completely soaked in sweat while the Senior had a small drip on his forehead.
“Jun, your strength has improved by leaps and bounds.” Jian complimented. Inwardly, he was completely shocked.
With that strange candy weapon and incredible sword art made specifically for that weapon, his rise to the top was all but guaranteed. As long as he didn’t die prematurely that is. For some time now, Jian has been practicing with Jun in preparation for the Grand Tournament. At first, Jian refused his request as he had better things to do than waste his time training his Junior Brother. But day after day, Jun knocked on his door with his head bowed, asking for him to train him.
Jian didn’t understand why his 2nd Junior was being so stubborn about this until he saw the hidden flames burning within his eyes. Jun was just as prideful and talented as any one of them so, when he was willing to face rejection day after day. It suddenly struck Jian. Something has happened to Jun that he couldn’t accept on a fundamental level. And what he wanted was something he was willing to forgo his pride for. He cared not for appearances when he could be gaining far greater strength.
Once he realized this, Jian decided to help his 2nd Junior out. He didn’t need to know the true reason for his desperate need for strength. In time, he was confident that it would reveal itself. As long as he kept a close eye on him during the Grand Tournament, he’ll find out. It wasn’t that hard to guess that Jun wanted revenge against someone from the fierceness of his blows.
“You’re still holding back, Jun.” Jian knocked Jun to the floor with a kick to the chest.
“I’m not...” Blood dripped from the side of his lips.
“We’ll never get anywhere with you holding back like this. Unless you imagine me as your worst enemy, you will never improve. Do you think I can’t handle your true strength?” Jian asked.
“I... I apologize. You’re right 2nd Senior. I won’t hold back any longer.” Jun’s Jelly Sword began to shake and squirm.
After that day, Jun’s skill with the sword began to rapidly grow. The intensity and lethality of his sword strikes surprised Jian. There was no weak point untargeted by his blade. Its fluidity, the overwhelming prowess, and unstoppable nature. His swordsmanship was nearly flawless! Jian had to push his own skill in swordsmanship to new heights after witnessing Jun’s sword art.
“Thank you 2nd Senior.” Jun bowed his head. “Without you, I would’ve never been able to progress my swordsmanship to this level. I am in your debt.”
“Think nothing of it. Just don’t embarrass yourself or Master Mo today with your skill.” He waved off Jun’s debt.
“I won’t.” Jun got up from the floor and began to walk outside the training room.
“Did you hear about 3rd Junior?” Jian asked before he left.
“No. I’ve been too focused with my own matters.” Jun answered.
“That’s alright then. It's nothing too important. You can leave.”
“See you later, Senior Martial Brother.”
“Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!” Tang cursed as he gave it his all.
His boomerang swung left to right, up and down, and all around to land a single blow on his 3rd Senior Brother. A burst of casual laughter rang out from Chao as he easily dealt with anything Tang threw at him. Master Mo called Chao’s skill with the spear unparallel within this generation and perhaps the next. These last few months of training with him have led to Tang understanding just how skilled his 3rd Senior truly was. And just how damn annoying he was as well.
“Left shoulder.” Chao’s spear tip tapped against Tang’s left shoulder.
“Guh!” His boomerang spun around him to protect himself.
“Don’t get caught up in your opponent’s tempo so easily, Little Tang.” Chao slipped right through Tang’s dangerous barrier and got up in his face.
He had his hand gripped under the spearhead that was poking against Tang’s defenseless chest. If he wanted, he could’ve penetrated right through his chest and killed him. Tang understood this perfectly. Meaning he has now lost more than 99 times against his annoying 3rd Senior in battle. Ever since he first asked him to train him, he has done nothing but lose, lose, lose, and lose! It pissed him off!
Tang has never been angrier with himself. Even with the Apostle’s weapon, he still hasn’t come close to defeating his 3rd Senior. The fact that Chao reduced himself to the same cultivation stage as himself only pissed him off even further. This meant that 3rd Senior was simply far more skilled with his weapon. He understood his weapon, perfected the art of wielding it, and knew everything about it. Once Tang realized this difference between the two of them, he started to learn how to properly use his weapon.
He prayed to Lord Tyanir for help. As there were no weapon arts for his boomerang in this continent. Praying to Lord Tyanir dropped him back to the start of the Qi Consolidation realm when he was ready to go to the next stage. All of his qi and progress during the 1st stage of the Qi Consolidation realm was erased for his prayer. Knowledge from the First Apostle on how to use his weapon flowed into his mind like a long-lost lover, returning to sweetly kiss her husband and fill him with all the love she’s been storing for him at his return. However, even with this knowledge at the cost of his strength, he still could not defeat Chao.
“You know Little Tang, instead of that useless auxiliary skill you have now. You should pick up Calming Heart instead.” Chao suggested with a grin.
“Fine.” Tang frowned. He didn’t like someone calling one of his chosen martial arts useless but he couldn’t deny his senior’s experience.
Despite how frivolous and laid back he usually presents himself, Tang understood that his 3rd Senior was an undeniable genius just like the rest of them. Him and 2nd Senior were equals in strength. Jian was more known for his calmness while Chao was more known for his playful demeanor. Neither was above or below each other. Jian was just older than Chao, which was why he was the 2nd Senior. It worked the same way with Jun and himself. Because Jun was older than him, he got to become the 4th Senior and he was forced to become the junior brother.
“Do you think you’ll be able to catch up with him?” Chao teasingly asked.
“Hmph. Like I would let myself willingly be surpassed by Jun. He is the one that needs to catch up to me!” Tang holstered his giant boomerang on his back.
“I don’t know.” Chao whistled. “I’ve been hearing some surprising things from Jian. If you don’t learn to control that short temper of yours in battle, you’ll never be able to pass him.”
“Isn’t that why you recommended that Calm Heart or whatever? I’ll learn it in time for the tournament and master it. Then another weakness of mine will be eliminated.” Tang made it to the door.
“I’m rooting for you Little Tang.” Chao blew a kiss.
“Disgusting freak!” Tang quickly closed the door behind him before the air kiss could reach him.
“Little Tang.” Jun greeted with a smile.
“Jun.” Tang crossed his arms.
“Are you heading to the tournament early?” Jun asked.
“I’m heading to the library.” Tang answered.
“Mind if I join you?”
“Yes. Go away.”
“Great! Let’s get going then.”
“Annoying!” Tang began walking out of Elder Mo’s mansion with Jun following on the side of him.
“I heard you’ve been training with 3rd Senior. Is it because you heard of my training with 2nd Senior?” Jun curiously questioned.
“No.” Tang lied.
Like hell, Tang would willing ask for training from anyone other than Master Mo. As soon as he heard that Jun was receiving lessons from 2nd Senior, he made his way to 3rd Senior to do the same. There was no way in hell that Tang could accept Jun getting ahead of him. He didn’t know why he would be willing to forsake his pride to ask for guidance from their senior brother but if Jun could do it then why couldn’t he? Tang’s realized that even with the First Apostle’s weapon, he couldn’t let himself become stagnant in his growth. The world wasn’t going to willingly allow him to stand on top of it even with Lord Tyanir’s blessing. So, he decided that he’ll force himself on top of it until the world has no choice but to submit to him.
“I see.” Jun cheekily smiled. “How much progress have you gained in your training?”
“More than you.” Was Tang’s answer.
“I’m not so sure about that Little Tang... I’ve gotten pretty strong, you know?”
“We’ll see if it's enough to match me in the tournament.”
“We’re most likely not going to make it to the finals but I do hope to see your new strength.”
“Tch. Speak for yourself, weakling.” Both Tang and Jun were in the 1st stage of the Qi Consolidation realm.
“The confidence you hold in your strength never ceases to amaze me.” Jun had to give him credit.
“Unlike you, I never doubt myself.”
“True. True. So, what martial art are you planning on getting?” Jun changed the subject.
“None of your business! Now quit following me!”
“Come on Little Tang. Don’t be such a stranger. It's been so long since we’ve talked like this.” Jun placed his arm around Tang’s neck.
“You’re just like 3rd Senior! Damn homo! Get away from me!” Tang pushed him away, clearly uncomfortable by the touch of another man.
“Hahaha! Tang! We're all brothers! What’s the need to act so shy for?” Jun continued to tease.
“Who’s acting shy? I’ll kill you. Now get away from me.” Tang walked a few meters away from Jun.
“How are you ever going to seduce that Hong girl when you can’t even express yourself around your own brothers?” Jun shook his head as if Tang was a hopeless case.
“Shut the hell up! I’ll deal with my own problems. Don’t worry about me.” Tang brandished his boomerang and nearly chopped Jun’s head off.
“You’re my Junior Brother. How could I not worry about you?” Jun casually leaned his head back, allowing the boomerang to soar over his face.
“Still just as annoying as ever... I should’ve left you for dead back then.” Tang scoffed.