Chapter 595 – The First Battle
Snowflakes drifted through the air as the surroundings flickered with figures of people; they were cheering her on loudly, but not a single person came to help her.
This was one of the iron rules of the arena. Unless the fighter personally admitted defeat, no one could interfere with the duel.
She widened her eyes as if she had blanked out from fright, or perhaps she could not let down the hopes placed on her, refusing to let go of her dignity as a genius.
The daemonic beast swallowed her arm and leapt up, lunging towards her. Even now, she was unable to forget its elegant and fierce posture. Death stared her right in the face.
A white figure rushed out. With a splash of blood, the daemonic beast collapsed on the ground. The duel had been interrupted, and she fainted.
Afterwards, she learnt that while the person held great status, she had broken the iron rules of the sacred duel, also suffering a rather severe punishment.
“Bao’er, what’s wrong?” Gu Yanying noticed Si Bao’s strange behaviour and asked.
“Screw duel. How boring. It’s not like this is the Dragon province. Let’s drink, let’s drink!” Si Bao filled two cups to the brim and shoved one into Gu Yanying’s hand while keeping the other for herself. She clinked the cups before drinking it all.
Gu Yanying smiled. “I almost forgot. A ‘dragon fighter’ is sitting right next to me!”
“Dragon fighters” were the highest honour of fighters. They were titles the Great Xiao empire conferred, and they possessed great glory.
“That title is worth nothing to me!” Si Bao said in disgust. Afterwards, she managed to reattach her arm, and she did not lose another duel again. However, she was simply unable to understand why Si Qing, no, basically everyone around him, was so enthusiastic about duels and liked it so much.
When the daemonic beast had almost eaten her, she had subconsciously looked at her mother, only to see a contorted face roaring, “Bao’er, kill it! Kill it!”
As the cultivation community of the Green province had become lazy and laid-back with the peace of the world, the Dragon province remained submerged in this crazy atmosphere throughout the years. Bloodthirstiness and battle-hungriness flowed through the veins of every single citizen of the Dragon province.
Li Qingshan’s eyes shone brightly. He had never thought the Dragon province was such a good place. If an opportunity ever presented itself in the future, he would definitely go there and take a look, but he basically had an opportunity tonight.
Based on the tradition of the Dragon province, when two parties encountered a dispute they were unable to settle, they could deal with it using a duel.
With Si Qing and Gu Yanying’s identities, if they directly began fighting, then that would be equivalent to falling out and declaring war. If they sent out subordinates and disciples one cultivation realm lower for battle, then this problem no longer existed. They could also compare the forces they had accumulated too.
With a flip of his hand, Si Qing tossed an item into the air. It expanded as it sailed through the air, landing in the centre of the hall and standing firmly. At first glance, it seemed like a huge tent. It was round at the bottom and pointed at the top. Its surface was covered in inscriptions, producing rings of light. A dragon shimmered, wrapping around the entire thing.
“A Dragon Arena!” Si Bao was mildly surprised. She had never thought Si Qing would actually bring out this.
If “dragon fighter” was the greatest honour a fighter could receive, then “dragon arenas” were the strongest among arenas. They required tremendous amounts of resources and effort to create, which could instead be used to forge countless arcane artifacts. And, once they were created, they had no offensive or defensive capabilities.
If it were not for the wealth and the enthusiasm towards duels of the imperial clan in the Dragon province, there were no cultivators or sects that would create a Dragon Arena.
“Same rules as before, a revolving team battle. We’ll have a total of three people fighting, with the next person taking their place if they die in battle or admit defeat. Pills, talismans, puppets, and so on are forbidden. Only arcane artifacts on you are permitted!”
Si Qing waved his hand, and the old man in a long gown walked up first, entering the Dragon Arena before everyone else. Originally, the order that people fought would be hidden away, just in case the opponent could come up with counter-tactics. Si Qing demonstrated plenty of confidence by doing something like this.
Gu Yanying said, “Alright. Rongzhi, you go first. If you win, I’ll reward you with the three arcane artifacts on you.”
The Hawkwolf guards were all amazed and envious. They never thought the reward for a battle would be so great. That was three arcane artifacts after all. Just how many dangerous missions did they have to complete normally to earn enough contribution for a single arcane artifact?
They could not help but think, The three people on the other side are powerful, but if I had a few arcane artifacts on me, victory is not completely impossible!
“Yes, commander,” Qian Rongzhi lowered her head. She showed no joy or fear. Before this woman, all acts were useless, or she would have never been chosen to participate in the duels in the first place.
She had already made up her mind. If there was something amiss about the situation, she would immediately forfeit. The three arcane artifacts were not that enticing to her.
“Commander, your subordinates requests to partake in the duels!”
Before Qian Rongzhi had even finished speaking, Li Qingshan heard a voice filled with dissatisfaction ring out from behind. He glanced back, only to see that was from a late Foundation Establishment White Wolf guard. His face was frosty and proud, roughly thirty or forty years old. He must have been a genius too, with a great chance at undergoing the second heavenly tribulation. He was also equipped with a few arcane artifacts.
Clearly, Gu Yanying had never expected Li Qingshan to make it perfectly in time, so she had already arranged three people for the duels. This fellow colleague had been one of them. He was already displeased with being switched out on the spot, and now that he heard such great benefits existed, he was unable to stay put anymore.
Gu Yanying said, “Wei Ke, you aren’t suited for battles like these.”
“Your subordinate insists.” Wei Ke refused to accept this. The commander is looking down on me far too much. With my strength, am I supposed to be even more incapable than a woman who just established a foundation?
Hua Chengzan had once enjoyed the wonderful title of the “greatest genius” in the Clear River prefecture, while Wei Ke also had that title in the Leping prefecture. However, unlike Hua Chengzan, he did not sink to degradation from a bunch of setbacks. Instead, he maintained that title even until now, reaching his current realm of cultivation smoothly. He had always been favoured by Gu Yanying, so of course he was rather narrow-minded.
Qian Rongzhi said, “I’m willing to forgo this opportunity and let Wei Ke take my place.”
Gu Yanying originally frowned, but when she heard Qian Rongzhi’s words, she could not help but smile. “Don’t worry, you won’t be able to escape. If you don’t do your best later on, I won’t spare you.”
Qian Rongzhi said nothing more, simply lowering her head even more. The hell snake slithered rapidly across her body as if it was choosing its prey.
Si Bao berated him, saying, “Wei Ke, the commander has already confirmed her choice, so why don’t you back down quickly?”
“Hehe, that’s easy to deal with. We can just add a person, can’t we? Your highness, didn’t you obtain an impressive fighter lately?” The pale scholar waved the black feather fan and chuckled.
Si Qing said, “But brother Jia, that bastard’s unruliness remains untamed. He has tried to escape several times already.”
“Only wild beasts can contend with wild beasts. I think if we don’t send him into battle, it’ll probably be very difficult to kill this little brother surnamed Li here and now.” Jia Zhen glanced at Li Qingshan, his eyes deep and sunken.
Li Qingshan grinned resplendently, revealing his teeth.
Gu Yanying nodded towards Wei Ke and said, “Be careful!”
“Thank you, commander!”
Wei Ke was overjoyed. He stepped into the Dragon Arena with his head held high, and his surroundings changed. Extremely-vast empty space constantly extended off into the distance. There was a tiny black speck in the distant horizon, which was the old man in a long gown who had entered first.
From Li Qingshan’s perspective, the tent gradually became transparent. From above, he saw a vast region several dozen kilometers across, with Wei Ke and the old man facing one another in there.
He felt like he was watching cricket fighting. The Dragon Arena served as the cricket pot, while the two people were the tiny crickets.
Si Qing said, “Yanying, you can pick the battleground first!”
Wei Ke was about to approach the old man for a battle to the death when the surrounding landscape suddenly twisted. When he returned to his senses, the earthen ground beneath him had already become fine sand, while the flat land had turned into rising and falling sand dunes, obscuring the old man.
In the beginning, he suspected it to be an illusion, but when he grabbed a handful of sand, he discovered it was real. The surroundings were even filled with dense earth spiritual energy.
He beamed inside. If that were the case, his chances at victory had increased yet again. His cultivation affinity was the earth element, so under these circumstances, he could obviously unleash a hundred and twenty percent of his strength.
Li Qingshan was surprised too. As it turned out, this was the so-called “picking a battleground”.
Dragon Arenas were not as simple as a space developed for duels. They were layered with multiple different spaces, where each layer was a different environment. They could be deserts, swamps, mountains, or rivers, and it was all just to increase the interest and unpredictability of the duels.
Choosing a suitable environment and earning a favourable geographic position could allow people to strike first and change the outcome of the duel. Gu Yanying had chosen this desert as the battleground of the duel after much consideration.
And, in an open desert like this, no matter how much experience the old man had in battles, he would struggle to make use of the environment. All he could do was fight recklessly with his own strength before evening up the difference in their strength a little.
In the desert, Wei Ke used a technique. With a rumble, the ground beneath him trembled, and the sand gathered into eight tall towers. Eight colossal earth puppets emerged, shaking off the sand on them.
Wei Ke glanced at the earthen-yellow ring on his hand, and his confidence swelled, This Clay Idol ring truly is an arcane artifact after all. Its power is startling. After I combined it with my own techniques, it has become even more powerful. Any single one of these eight earth puppets can defeat Qian Rongzhi. Victory is mine.
In the distance, a golden streak of light whistled over with a long trail, flying past the sand dunes. Wei Ke controlled the puppets in a hurry, standing guard right in front of him.
The golden light arrived nearby, and only then did he make it out to be a golden spike. It was covered with strange inscriptions as it revolved rapidly, passing through a puppet with ease and arriving before Wei Ke’s chest.
Wei Ke summoned a green flying blade, which collided with the golden spike and produced a clang. The golden spike was sent flying. Fortunately, his flying blade was a high grade arcane artifact, while his opponent’s golden spike was only an inferior arcane artifact.
Right when Wei Ke eased up and was about to launch a great counterattack, he suddenly heard a series of whistles through the air. They were dense in number, singing shrilly through the air.
Wei Ke’s pupils widened, reflecting specks of golden light. Several dozen strands of golden light formed an array, crossing over the sand dune and shooting over.
An arcane artifact that came in a set!
The number of spiritual artifacts and arcane artifacts a cultivator could wield was limited. However, if they came in a set, then they were not bound by this limit. However, spiritual artifacts like that were already extremely rare, let alone arcane artifacts.
Gu Yanying frowned, while Si Qing smiled. “The Heart Piercing Spikes of the Heavenly Spirit, amounting to a total of thirty-six. Although every single one of them are only of inferior grade, their combined strength suffices just enough.”
A while later, Wei Ke was brought out of the Dragon Arena. His face was filled with panic and a refusal to accept what had happened, lying on the ground without moving at all. There was a bloody hole in his head.
Originally, he had a chance to reach Golden Core, but now, everything was over. Dead geniuses were not geniuses.