Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
After the Battle of the 50, the next round would normally have 25 contestants left, but Xu Que’s forfeiture meant that the next round would only have 24 cultivators left on the stage of the Nine States Forum.
Within the Nine States, there were more than 24 sacred lands, which meant that even if each sacred land had one person remaining, the next round would not accommodate everyone. Ultimately the strongest of many sacred lands would be eliminated, such as Yin Qi of Feng State. But if an extremely prolific sacred land had two candidates advanced to the next round, then it would mean that a cultivator from another sacred land would be excluded.
The Barren State had three people remaining: Yu Sheng, who defeated Wu Liang in the first battle, and Xu Que who, though forfeited counted as an advance, thus lowering the space by one. If Hua Jieyu and Ye Wuchen wished to advance, that would only translate to two fewer spaces. Consequently, even these three remaining contestants from the Barren State were being closely watched by everyone.
A sacred land, especially one such as the Barren State, would have occupied four allotments. For Barren State to compete, other sacred lands of the Nine States would have to sacrifice those four spaces; it would be hard for Barren State not to be closely scrutinized as such.
Just now, in the direction of the Ocean State, a youth clad in silver armor stepped forward. He was well-built and handsome, tall in stature with smooth skin that radiated with unusual beauty. His eyes shone with a blue glimmer, as deep as the ocean.
This was Ao Kun, noble prince of the Ocean Palace from the Ocean State. Ao Kun was also the strongest amongst all nobles of the Ocean Palace. Aggressive and forceful, he was known for his mastery of many martial techniques.
The Ocean State was located at the Endless Sea and included three major sacred lands: The Celestial Cliffs, the Ocean Palace, and The North Deep. Amongst the three, the Ocean Palace carried the greatest sense of mystery. Rumor had it that the palace was built underneath the sea, with its people possessing unique talents and bloodlines. However, because Ocean Palace was located at the easternmost boundary of Endless Sea, its relationship with the Nine States was not a close one. Ocean Palace had the least interaction with the Nine States, aside only from the Barren State. One reason for this was due to the sheer distance and the second was because of its location beneath Endless Sea.
“I challenge Ye Wuchen of Barren State,” Ao Kun announced. Everyone’s eyes gleamed. The Barren State had been chosen again.
The least favored Barren State already had a difficult journey so far. They were the black horse of the Nine States Forum, yet the most spectacular. It was precisely because of this distinction that they were pursued by the Nine States’ other sacred lands as a target. From the Battle of the Hundred, the Opening Battle, and each of the battles that came before, all were battles for the Barren State.
Ye Wuchen glanced at Ao Kun of Ocean Palace and immediately strode up to the battle stage. Before he even arrived, Ye Wuchen asked, “May we start now?”
“As you please.” Just as Ao Kun finished the sentence, a trident appeared, forming from his outstretched hand. Surrounding Ye Wuchen was an acute Sword Will. His pupils took on a ferocious appearance and a massive Will of Swordsman, disregarding distance and space, shot out toward Ao Kun’s eyes. Despite the attack, Ao Kun’s pupils exuded an incredibly powerful Spiritual Will so that when Ye Wuchen’s Sword Will plunged towards him, it sank as if falling into an endless ocean.
At the same time, Ao Kun stepped toward Ye Wuchen. Spiritual Qi gathered between heaven and earth, first giving birth to waves, and then an ocean that spilled forth as if to engulf the martial arts platform. Because Ocean State was located within the Endless Sea, their cultivators were especially talented with water affinity and could cultivate through ocean waves while perceiving different powers from it.
The forum stage was now flooded with vicious waves, all howling toward Ye Wuchen, who seemed to be completely unaware. Horrific currents surrounded the man, yet he walked directly into the water and continued forwards without regard for its punishing waves.
This was the first time that Ye Wuchen had started the offensive before he was ready. Clearly, the Barren State had been targeted in the challenges, so even if he had been in a tranquil state of mind, he still felt anger now. Everyone present could feel it from the one-armed swordsman in training.
The Sword Qi swirled forwards into the ocean and through the giant waves, attacking Ao Kun. Ao Kun’s body shuddered suddenly, seeming to morph into a fish before swimming swift as lightning towards Ye Wuchen, trident in hand.
The Sword Will’s power upon Ye Wuchen intensified, the sword appearing within his palm, shredding rule power permeated and fracturing the waves. Ye Wuchen’s sword pierced the waves with a terrifying whistle, creating a massive funnel of water. The Unending Sword Qi focused, turning into a Shredding Sword aimed straight ahead.
The trident in Ao Kun’s hand simultaneously launched an aggressive attack; his arms were covered with what looked like the scales of a dragon as his body ripped through the giant waves to land in front of Ye Wuchen. As his trident attacked, waves piled upon one another with tremendous force, as if to crush the shore.
Before the attacks even made contact, an unimaginable force crashed into Ye Wuchen. The waves were harder than even the strongest rocks, tossing Ye Wuchen about. The man felt as if every organ in his body was about to be smashed. But his sword remained pointed forwards, clashing with the trident. The Sword Qi continued to shred forwards even as the pulverizing momentum struck wildly against Ye Wuchen; both opponents endured the incredible pressure.
Between Ye Wuchen’s brows, a silver ray arced through the expanse and stabbed into Ao Kun’s pupils while Ye Wuchen began to back up. A mirage suddenly appeared amidst the sea, before many images of Ye Wuchen began to manifest simultaneously. Ye Wuchen could sense Ao Kun’s Spiritual Will transforming into the massive shape of a Whale Dragon, and almost instantly, a colossal illusion, that of a Whale Dragon, appeared behind Ao Kun. Its large mouth opened with a bellow and a sudden sharp, shrilling sound began to reverberate with the waves, shaking the very firmament itself.
The mirror images of Ye Wuchen scattered about the water were shattered, and even the Spiritual Will in Ye Futian’s head was cast out and broken. The shrieking sounds forced Ye Wuchen to retreat into the ocean along with the waves, the Spiritual Will within him continuously assaulted to the point of collapsing.
Obviously, Ao Kun was a formidable Spiritual cultivator, specializing in soundwave-based attacks.
In the grandstand area, cultivators below the Sage level felt a sharp pain from their Spiritual power. Some even covered their ears to no avail. They saw that the forum stage ahead had been transformed into an ocean—familiar territory for Ao Kun.
This top disciple of the Ocean Palace in the Ocean State was frightfully strong.
Perhaps Ye Wuchen will be eliminated, many of the onlookers thought. It was suggested that Ao Kun’s strength could overcome Ye Wuchen. Even if his illusion spell proved to be useless, Ao Kun wouldn’t be weaker than Ye Wuchen in a face to face battle.
Ye Futian could see that Ye Wuchen was indeed in danger during this fight and could possibly be eliminated. Winning or losing aside, to be where they were now was already an achievement by itself.
Years ago, they stepped out of the Cangye Kingdom, from the land of the hundred kingdoms. They strove and toiled, for their journey was not easy. And now to see an even more expansive world, to exchange with stronger opponents and push forwards. Even losing would be an encouragement to Wuchen.
“Your Spiritual Elemental Illusions are useless against me,” Ao Kun said. The enormous Whale Dragon morphed into what seemed like a monstrous riding beast underneath him. Ao Kun, with his trident in hand, resembled the King of the Seas and a natural warrior of the ocean.
The Whale Dragon let out another piercing scream and its enormous body broke the waves, like lightning within the sea. It created giant, terrible waves that crashed towards Ye Wuchen.
With his sword in hand, Ye Wuchen’s Endless Sword Qi flowed and coursed into the swordsman’s whirlpool, making similar waves. Ye Wuchen did not flinch when he saw his opponent. Instead, his body shot forward like a sharpened sword, slashing again.
Trident and sword collided once more and tides of storming shock waves surged, forcing back Ye Wuchen and his sword. The opponent’s attack embodied rule that was conceived from the rhythm of the ocean, encompassing its boundless concussive power.
As Ye Wuchen stepped backward, Ao Kun continued forward, riding his Whale Dragon with unimaginable speed directly at Ye Wuchen. The two men clashed in the water, causing great waves to slam against the Forum grandstand. Many cultivators moved to defend against the waves, attempting to avert disaster.
In the ocean that had once been the battlefield, a tsunami began to form alongside a dreadful whirlpool, and as Ye Wuchen’s body continued to be knocked and thrown backward, his organs on the verge of shattering, he closed his eyes to feel his body moving with the water. The sea was turning into a terrifying funnel, surrounding their bodies like a storm.
Ao Kun once again descending as the Whale Dragon and, growling, launched his trident with unfathomable power. Ye Wuchen’s sword blocked the trident with a clang.
At once, Ye Wuchen opened his eyes. They were a pair of sword eyes, and now, the brilliant blade of light stabbed into Ao Kun’s eyes. Ao Kun ignored the attack, his trident continuing its rapid, violent slashing.
This onslaught could very well end the fight.
Bang! The trident once again collided with the sword, but this time the sword shattered. Cruelty flashed through Ao Kun’s eyes as he pushed forward with the trident, piercing Ye Wuchen’s body. The water trembled violently and Ye Wuchen’s shadow fragmented, but Ao Kun’s brows remained knitted. He saw a one-armed figure following the direction of the whirlpool in a nearly perfect arc, returning once again to the waves.
One sword began, thousand swords began.
Giant waves cloaked Ye Wuchen, along with an immense Sword Will that moved faster than the eye could see. Ao Kun had just launched his attack, but his momentum decreased.
“Retreat.” Ao Kun’s mind manifested the command and the Whale Dragon began to back paddle against the waves. In front of him, Ye Wuchen was carried forth by the waves of the whirlpool, the sword within his pupils expanding.
The trident was raised again, offensively, attacking the image that Ao Kun saw, but this time, he was too slow. The sword came and left in a flash, his trident pierced nothing but its afterimage. Once again, his eyes had been fooled.
The two combatants collided in passing, and Ao Kun saw red in the sea. He felt a coolness on his neck and raised a hand to it, uncertain whether water or blood flowed across his skin. As Ao Kun’s breath calmed, the water soon dissipated. He looked at his palm, red with his seemingly thin blood, still mixed with the sea water.
He turned to regard the one-armed swordsman.
“Was my Spiritual Spell effective?” Ye Wuchen slowly turned around and asked him.
“Within my ocean territory, you were able to utilize the advantage of an ocean funnel and accounted for it within your strategy.” Ao Kun focused on Ye Wuchen. “Congratulations, you’ve won.” As he finished speaking, Ao Kun turned to leave and walked out of the Forum.
In this fight, Ye Wuchen of the Barren State was victorious. The number one disciple of the Ocean Palace in the Ocean State, Ao Kun, had been eliminated.
The Barren State was able to grab yet another seat from the other sacred lands.
“Jieyu, you are next.” Before Ye Wuchen even left, Ye Futian secretly transmitted his voice to Hua Jieyu. The stronger sacred lands were intentionally blocking the advancement of those from the Barren State. As such, it was better to be more proactive by challenging those who were weaker to procure opportunities instead of facing the top competitors.
Hua Jieyu lightly nodded. As Ye Wuchen walked back, she stepped out and challenged the disciple of the Stone saint of the Yu State, who was rich in attack but poor in Spiritual Will. Hua Jieyu would use her own extremely powerful Will to subdue the opponent, thus advancing again.
When Hua Jieyu walked back to the area occupied by the Barren State, many eyes accompanied her in interest. Even if they backed out now, three of the top 24 spots were now occupied by one single sacred land from the Barren State: The Holy Zhi Palace.
“The 24 strongest,” laughed the Sky Saint. ” The Barren State surprised everyone. Saint Xihua, three were able to advance from the Barren State, and if Xu Que was not wounded, it would be four. They are not far from the top ten.” Previously Saint Xihua had agreed to bestow a divine implement if someone from Barren State could include themselves in the top ten. At the time, no one took it as anything other than a joke, viewing it as Ye Futian offering Xihua Sacred Mountain the implement. But now looking back, they had a completely different perspective.
Upon the grandstand, many dignitaries surveyed those left standing; they were all proud sons and daughters from the sacred lands of the Nine States, but the three from the Barren State outshined them all.
“Let’s wait and see,” Saint Xihua said, his eyes fixed upon the field.
The ensuing battles were still extremely exciting, still the strong versus strong. And at the end, excepting the disciples from the Barren State, 21 more would still advance. For Yu State, aside from the Zhisheng Cliffs, everyone had been eliminated.
Of the last 24, no other sacred land had been able to procure two spaces aside from the Barren State. Even the Xia clan was no exception; the other notable contestant among them encountered an incredible character from Luohou Palace. Likewise, other scared lands had also encountered formidable opponents.
Once many of them had been targeting the Barren State, but looking back, those who had targeted the Barren State seemed weaker in comparison to those that remained. So it was actually the Barren State that had taken the placements from them instead.
Now, amongst the 24 strongest, all would be the top geniuses from all the sacred lands!