Three days later, in the morning
"Greetings, everyone. Welcome to the 768th Skyhill Sword Seminar of the Flying Star Sector that is exclusively live streamed by Mystic Ray News. This Skyhill Sword Seminar is solely sponsored by Unified Heaven Sword Sect. Unified Heaven Straight Sword, the bestselling thunder-class flying swords of the Flying Star Sector, has now been fully upgraded with an extravagant gold sheath. Feel free to place an order via the official site. Everyone who purchases during the Skyhill Sword Seminar will not be charged the shipping fee and will receive a complimentary a sword pendent made of the Gold Thread Flowers.
"Alright. We have now arrived at 'Thousand Edges Mountain', the biggest floating mountain of the Skyhill Domain. As the main field for this Skyhill Sword Seminar, this place boasts the largest honeycomb-type refining workshops of the Flying Star Sector and can accommodate thousands of refiners at the same time. It is indeed splendid and magnificent.
"Although it is only seven thirty in the morning, Thousand Edges Mountain is already packed with people. It is well known that Skyhill Sword Seminar is not just a match, but also an annual gala where all refiners congregate and communicate. The noble families of refining and the Cultivation sects often take the opportunity to release their new products or host trade fairs. Many fans of magical equipment have also arrived from various space zones that are quite far away.
"The competition of the Skyhill Sword Seminar is unprecedentedly fierce. The two commentators we have invited here are both well-known celebrities. First of all, I would like to introduce to you Master Dustless from Flying Star University. Master Dustless is an experienced expert in the refinement of sabers and swords, as well as a councilor of the Sword Forgers' Association of the Flying Star Sector. Nice to meet you, Master Dustless."
"Nice to meet you, and all the audience, too."
"You must be very familiar with our second guest. This is Bi Luoling from Red Wind Pavilion. Ms. Bi won third place in the Skyhill Sword Seminar last year. She is already a rising star in Red Line School. It is said that the weapon system of the latest model of Red Line School has been partly developed by Ms. Bi. Greetings, Ms. Bi!"
"Pleased to meet you, Da Peng. Hello to everyone!"
"Alright. Let's get down to our topic today. If I may ask, why is everybody saying that the Skyhill Sword Seminar this year is going to be more marvelous than usual? What kind of highlights do you envision right now? Ms. Bi, can you help explain the two questions to our audience?"
"Alright. It is universally known that there are two noble families of refining, namely the Mo family and the Huangpu family, in the circle of the refiners of the Flying Star Sector whose long histories have been well-acknowledged. They boast thousands of Cultivation techniques and profound knowledge about refining. Their capability completely overpowers that of any other family or sect.
"Over the past thirty years, two extraordinary prodigies have gradually distinguished themselves in the two families, Mo Tianshui and Huangpu Xiaoya.
"Although the two of them never took part in any public matches, they have proved themselves to be far stronger than their brothers, sisters, and cousins in the competitions within their families. Even the experts of older generations have to be very cautious when they are faced with them. They are truly monster-level geniuses that only appear every five hundred years!
"The biggest highlight of this Skyhill Sword Seminar will, of course, be the summit confrontations of the two 'monsters of refining'."
"Allow me to add something else. Other than Mo Tianshui and Huangpu Xiaoya, the other fourteen seed players all have tremendous potential. Zhou Xiaoyu from the Snowy Sword Village and Long Yunxin from the Long family of Spiritual Streams both ranked in the top 32 last year. The line-up is so intriguing that I almost can't wait to watch the match despite my old age!"
On the Thousand Edges Mountain, inside a vast preparation area
It was the last rendezvous point before the competition.
Every player had an independent chamber. They could also consume some simple food to refresh their body and soul in the public area.
Long Yunxin was watching the live stream through her mini crystal processor. Hearing the old professor of Flying Star University bringing up her name, she was so happy that her cheeks flushed.
Xie Anan was standing behind her in the staff uniform. She was much more anxious and looking at the gate in eagerness.
"Are you waiting for someone?" Long Yunxin frowned.
Xie Anan was apparently not focused. Suddenly, her eyes shined, and she exclaimed.
Long Yunxin looked at where she was looking and was awed, too.
What tremendous pressure!
There was no telling whether it was a coincidence or not, but Mo Tianshui and Huangpu Xiaoya, the two centers of attention of the Skyhill Sword Seminar this year, had walked into the gate simultaneously.
Mo Tianshui was wearing a pair of linen shoes and a thorny branch which bound his hair. He was like an ancient sword that had just been unearthed, with thick dust blocking the spiritual stripes on it. His eyes were long, narrow, and tranquil, through which one seemed to be able to see another world, an incredible realm of sabers and swords!
Huangpu Xiaoya was like a bundle of lightning.
She was not a pretty girl, but definitely one that left a deep impression on whoever saw her. One would inevitably feel that infuriated electric arcs that were going to explode at any time were restricted and condensed into the shape of a human. Volatile pressure was unleashed continuously from her!
The arrival of the two prodigies set the preparation area on fire. Many refiners were crowding forward unconsciously, planning to observe them at a closer distance.
Long Yunxin took a few steps forward, too. She was an acquaintance of Huangpu Xiaoya and intended to greet her, only to discover that Xie Anan had already rushed out like a rabbit that had just seen a carrot.
Long Yunxin slapped her head. This young sister of hers was a crazy fan of swords and could never control her legs and mouth when she saw a celebrity. Long Yunxin only hoped that she wouldn't do anything too unusual and embarrass her in front of her old friend.
Xie Anan dashed forward and reached Huangpu Xiaoya in the blink of an eye. Long Yunxin had a terrible feeling.
However, Xie Anan ignored and passed Huangpu Xiaoya as if she didn't exist. She moved further and stopped in front of a messy-haired, drowsy young man.
If she had a tail, it would be wagging hard right now.
"Master Li Yao, you are here! Did you sleep well last night? The number of your personal chamber is 2588. I'll show you there for last-minute preparations in a moment. But do you want to grab some breakfast first? The porridge this morning is quite refreshing. It has also been added with sixteen Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures that have the effect of calming the soul. It will be very helpful for your performance in a minute. Can I offer you a bowl of it right now?"
Long Yunxin was dazed. What was going on here?
Huangpu Xiaoya was somewhat startled, too.
As the most excellent genius in the new generation of the Huangpu family, she had been used to the blandishment of other people. When she'd seen the young girl trotting close, she had thought that the girl was coming to be at her service. She didn't expect that the girl would simply pass by her!
She turned around and looked. The young man behind looked rather unfamiliar. He did not seem to be a celebrity of the trade.
Huangpu Xiaoya frowned slightly. She moved forward expressionlessly without looking back again.
Long Yunxin didn't know what to say or do. Seeing that Xie Anan and Li Yao walked and laughed to his chamber, she quickly followed and stopped right in front Li Yao.
Li Yao grinned and greeted merrily, "Nice to meet you, Fellow Cultivator Long!"
"You, too Fellow Cultivator Li," replied Long Yunxin, drily. She glanced suspiciously at Li Yao and then at Xie Anan, not having the vaguest clue what spells the man had cast on Xie Anan that had turned her into a pug.
Li Yao yawned again and took off his gloves slowly.
Xie Anan suddenly cried, giving Long Yunxin yet another tremor.
But there was nothing inside the gloves.
Li Yao blew at his palm and warmed up his fingers. Then he took out a bright green bottle from his pocket. He dug out some white ointment from the bottle and smeared it on his hands carefully.
A refiner's skills hinged on their hands. The protection of hands couldn't be too highly valued.
The Cultivation of a refiner could be inferred from the ointment they used for the protection of their hands.
The Long family of Spiritual Streams was best at refining medicines. Long Yunxin had been familiar with almost a thousand ointments that could be used to nourish the hands. For an ointment that had been mixed with dozens of Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures, she could easily list all of them after smelling the ointment casually.
However, she could not distinguish what kind of Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures had been employed in Li Yao's ointment!
How can that be! Even the secret ointments of the Mo family and the Huangpu family are readily discernable under my nose!
Did this guy make his own secret ultimate ointment that has absorbed the useful contingents of all the Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures without leaving the tiniest residue?
So, is this guy really an expert who has been hiding himself?
In Long Yunxin's eyes, the bright green bottle turned mysterious all of a sudden. She intended to ask but was too embarrassed to open her mouth.
But Xie Anan did not have any concerns. She asked in admiration and reverence, "What a strange smell! Master Li Yao, is this your self-made ointment? Does it have special effects for the protection of your hands?"
"It is not."
Li Yao dug out another cluster of ointment from the bottle and smeared it on his hands, while he replied casually, "This is just a bottle of sunblock cream that I bought on the street. It only cost 3.5 dollars. Quite a bargain, I would say."
"Ke! Ke! Ke! Ke!"
Long Yunxin coughed uncontrollably. She couldn't deal with it any longer and said after a long breath, "Excuse me, Fellow Cultivator Li, I'm going to my chamber for some last-minute preparations. I hope you can fully bring out your potential in the match!"
After that, she stomped on the ground and quickly left with rigid footsteps.
Xie Anan bit her lips and hesitated for a long time. Eventually, she summoned her courage and asked, "Master Li Yao, how can you take care of your hands with the cheapest sunblock?
"We Cultivators may be tolerant of everything else, but we cannot be sloppy about the arts of Cultivation!
"For an expert like you, your hands have been built up after throbbing suffering from the Purple Ring Sword Ants. They are priceless assets and should be nourished with the most advanced ointment made of Heavenly Materials and Earthly Treasures. Smearing random sunblock cream is too inappropriate!
"Even though you might be short of funds for the time being, the organizer is providing basic nourishing ointments for every contestant. I think any of them would be better than sunblock cream, right?"
Li Yao was dazed for a moment. Then he laughed. "What are you thinking? I'm not so poor as to be unable to buy special nurturing ointments. I am not using them on purpose. My hands have been starved for two days."
"Starved for two days?" Xie Anan was confused.
Li Yao said, "Have you ever seen cock fighting or dog fighting? Do you know the secrets of such games?"
Cock fighting? Dog fighting?
Xie Anan shook her heads in bewilderment.
"The secret to winning such games is cutting their meals before the important matches.
"Hunger and thirst are the best exhilarants!
"A fearsome animal is the most brutal when it is the hungriest. It will lunge forward unhesitatingly and tear the prey to pieces even if its opponent is multiple times larger than itself!"
Xie Anan was not sure that she understood, but she was looking at Li Yao's hands in fear.
Li Yao extended his fingers and raised his hands. Then he said casually, "Right now, these hands of mine have been starved."