The host was truly stunned.
Although hands were of paramount importance to refiners, a lack of one or two fingers did not necessarily mean that one could not refine anything.
There were many masters of refining who only had nine fingers in the legends.
However, the fingers that were missing were never thumbs!
Without thumbs, one could not even hold a saber or a sword, not to mention the delicate tools that were used in refining!
This guy, Li Yao, had not used his thumbs from the beginning to the end, and yet he had defeated the heir of the Luo family from East Brightness who was best known for his hand speed?
The host had a try himself. He folded his thumbs and picked up items on the desk with the remaining eight fingers. It took him quite a long time before he lifted the water cup with some difficulty. But soon, he faltered and knocked the cup over. His shoes were drenched.
The host was stunned. "How did he do the maintenance work like this?"
Bi Luoling mumbled, "Hiding his fingers was still enough for him to beat Luo Dong easily. If he had tried his best, he definitely could've made it shorter than 55 minutes. With any luck, he could've even
"However, why is he doing this? Trying to hide his prowess on purpose? It is unnecessary, is it not, Master Dustless?"
Bi Luoling was somewhat confused.
Master Dustless gazed at Li Yao's hands for a long time, before he shook his head and answered solemnly, "He was not hiding his sharpness; he was merely trying to activate his fighting will!"
"To activate his fighting hill?"
"Yes. Luoling, as third place last year, you must've had similar experiences. During the match, one cannot enter their best state at the very beginning. They have to encounter a few competent opponents and fighting against them with all they can. Only in such a way can they turn excited and crazy and be blessed with the strongest fighting will. They enter their best state, in which they forget who and where they are. Only after such intense competitions can they march forward unstoppably!
"If an expert of martial arts is asked to fight a three-year-old, they would certainly be lethargic.
"Maybe, for this Li Yao, Luo Dong was merely like a three-year-old. He could not summon any fighting will when he was trying to defeat him at all!
"If the strongest fighting will came too late, he would have been at a great disadvantage when he meets with the real experts.
"The reason he hid two thumbs on purpose was not to show off but to increase the difficulty of the competition for himself, so that he could trigger the strongest fighting will while he was surpassing his limits!"
The host was dumbfounded. "The real experts? Even the heir of the Luo family of East Brightness was not a 'real expert' in Li Yao's eyes? Then who is his target? Could it be"
Master Dustless murmured, "I've been studying the art of refining for more than a hundred years, and I have never seen such a weird newbie and such a pair of queer hands Look at his hands carefully and compare them with other contestants'. Do you see any difference?"
The host projected a few other light beams on which he displayed the pictures of the hands of other experts of refining including Mo Tianshui's and Huangpu Xiaoya's.
Most of the hands were as translucent as jade, as smooth as silk, or as hard as steel. Some of them were even glowing with soul-stirring beauty while the fingers were moving.
Li Yao's hands were the only exception. His were the same as those of the ordinary people at first glance. There were some tiny injuries on the back of the hands and a few callouses on his palms. Even his fingernails were untidy!
The host blinked and said, "His hands seem rather plain. There's nothing unusual about them."
Staring at her own sparkling hands, Bi Luoling replied solemnly, "That is the problem. Watched from whichever angle, this pair of hands should belong be a low-level Cultivator or even an ordinary person. But, in fact, the owner of the hands is an expert refiner who has crushed over Luo Dong effortlessly. I can tell absolutely nothing about his background and expertise from his hands, and I have no idea how he trained himself with such skills!"
"I suggest" Master Dustless remarked, "we switch the camera to this Li Yao more often besides focusing on Mo Tianshui and Huangpu Xiaoya. I'm going to carefully observe what kind of performance he's going to dedicate later!"
"What? You lost to that Li Yao guy?"
Inside their personal chambers, the 320 contestants who had won the first round were taking a brief rest.
Long Yunxin, who had secured the victory without any trouble, was soaking her hands in the special liquid to refresh them, while she enjoyed the excellent show of the top two seed players, only to be interrupted by Luo Dong's incoming message.
Inside the light beam, Luo Dong's face was so awful that it seemed like he could cry at any moment. Even then, he still didn't know how he had failed.
"It's like ghosts walking in daylight. Ghosts walking in daylight! The guy's actions were the opposite of elegant. His fingers were rigid, too. I was secretly laughing at the beginning and thought that the stupid movements were because of his nervousness and lack of experience.
"But before I knew it, he had completed all the maintenance tasks with the awkward actions and the stiff fingers!
"You didn't see his eyes. The horrifying eyes! They were like two furnaces, two refining furnaces where black fire was burning and swallowing all the blades in front of them!
"Dreadful. It's too dreadful! In the end, I did not dare look at him at all. Whenever there was eye contact, I felt that my soul was being melted in a bottomless refining furnace!
"Disrupted. My pace was completely disrupted, and I lost the match foolishly just like that!"
"Hehe. It's nothing new to see ghosts in daylight. Hundreds of spectral Cultivators are watching the game right now!"
Long Yunxin sniffed and replied straightforwardly, "Maybe the guy has indeed got some petty tricks up his sleeve, but the real problem is that you are too weak. In social occasions, I've been trying to save your face, but since it's just you and me right now, I'm going to be frank. Your life has been too comfortable. I've read too much of news about your affairs over the last year! I think it was on the girls' bodies that your soul was melted."
Instead of waiting for a response, Long Yunxin cut off the call immediately. She took a long breath and continued readying her mind.
It was unimportant.
There were too many fellows who read a few novels and thought that they could play the pigs that could eat tigers.
However, those pigs could only eat tigers that were fat and stupid at best. When they were faced with ferocious dragons, they would be stomped into pork pies instantly!
A giant light beam was floating in front of Long Yunxin, on which the names of the 320 contestants were displayed. They were shining nonstop and were about to be classified into new groups of ten randomly.
The second round was still one out of ten. The elimination process would begin after the top 32 were determined.
Long Yunxin prayed to herself that she would not be put in the same group with monsters such as Mo Tianshui or Huangpu Xiaoya.
She was a seed player. Under the stochastic algorithm, the odds that two seed players would be sorted into the same group were quite low.
However, to make the match more enjoyable and to attract a larger audience, two seed players might still be able to meet before the final round, which would often be quite thrilling.
The second round of the match was the realization of designated structural designs.
Every contestant had an independent refining furnace and an operation platform. Three structural designsnamely a chainsword, a vibration saber, and a heat axewould be offered to them.
The three kinds of melee magical equipment were the most classic models. They represented the peak of damage from revolution, damage from vibration, and damage from heat. Every refiner should be familiar with all the details on them.
What they needed to do was refine the three pieces of magical equipment from scratch within five hours with the same materials.
The criterion of victory would be the damage of their works. Those who boasted the strongest blades in their group would be qualified to enter the elimination match!
During the elimination match, the top 32 players would be engaged in one-versus-one competitions. That was the real 'Skyhill Sword Seminar'!
Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!
The 32 groups had been formed.
Long Yunxin's heart was racing. Her eyes sped over the family names of her group's contestants Thankfully, there was neither 'Mo' nor 'Huangpu'!
Relieved, she read on at ease, only to find an unexpected name on itZhou Xiaoyu, the young master of Snowy Sword Village!
Zhou Xiaoyu was a seed player, too, who had defeated her in the Skyhill Sword Seminar the previous year.
The unlikely event of two seed players running into each other in advance had happened to her after all.
However, Long Yunxin was not scared of Zhou Xiaoyu.
In fact, she had been hoping that she could meet her old nemesis soon.
Excellent. I'm going to kick you out of the top hundred for what you did to me last year!
This guy Li Yao was classified into the same group as us?
Fighting against two seed players. Today is not your lucky today, my little friend who plays the pig!
The time for the second round had come.
Long Yunxin scoffed. She clenched her fists, producing clicking sounds, and she stepped onto the teleportation array with her head held high. She instantly appeared in a new field.
Except for those of the top experts, most competitions of refining were long and dull, without many highlights in the process.
In order to attract more spectators, the organizer had spared no effort in increasing the competitiveness of the match.
In the second round, every refiner had their independent workshop, but the walls of the workshops had been built up by transparent crystals, through which one could see clearly what the other nine competitors in the group were doing.
Besides, the workshops had communication channels connecting each other. When 'old nemeses' ran into each other, they could scorn and disparage one another with trash talk so that they might influence the mental states of their opponents. When that happened, it would be like two colliding comets, thrilling and entertaining!
Hardly had Long Yunxin entered her workshop when she noticed that her old friend Zhou Xiaoyu was her next-door neighbor.
Zhou Xiaoyu was wearing a black refining uniform. He looked gentle and elegant. The corners of his eyes were higher than regular, making him more appealing and endowing him with a weird charisma.
"Yunxin, I didn't know that we were so linked. We met early again this year. Hahahaha!" Zhou Xiaoyu smiled, while he eyed Long Yunxin as if she were an innocent pet.
"Young Master Zhou, please call me 'Fellow Cultivator Long'!" replied Long Yunxin coldly, not cringing at all. She glared at Zhou Xiaoyu.
Visible flames were flowing around them and filled their respective workshops. They were like two deadly animals crouching behind fragile bars and glowering at each other.
"We are doomed! We've been classified into the same group as two seeded players!"
"If there was one, we could try our luck. But there are two of them. This is indeed a group of death!"
"With the two sharks here, we shrimps stand no chance at all!"
"We can only try our best and get to a higher place!"
The other refiners of the same group all sighed upon seeing the murderous faces of those two.
In a workshop across from the two sharks', Li Yao sat cross-legged and stared at his hands with full attention.
More exactly, he was observing his thumbs, the two fingers which didn't participate in the battle earlier and were cramping violently because of hunger.
He bent and raised his thumbs, as if he were lifting two cold butchers' cleavers.
Li Yao opened his hands in midair. The two cleavers were placed on Long Yunxin's and Zhou Xiaoyu's necks.
The fingernails on the thumbs couldn't bear the furious fighting will anymore and exploded at the same time. Hot blood dyed the two fingers crimson like magma!