Everyone among the audience just arrived here too.
The place they were in was an open square covered in stone slabs, a turtle over ten meter long and a few meters tall and boasting an extraordinarily imposing manner lying in one of the square's corners.
In addition, on top of the turtle, there was a large "Li" character.
Shu Xian stood near the giant turtle's legs, off to the side and on her own against multiple sects' representatives.
Even though they were all just representatives of sects from the lower three grades, the first seats of those sects still were at least at the fourth vein level. Furthermore, let alone the other people, the first seats were all strong people who fought their way out of their respective areas.
There were five different entrances to the square, precisely corresponding with the number of districts from which sects' disciples came.
As for Lu Sheng and others, they were led by Huang Sicheng who was walking at the front, with Li Xiuying and Lu Sheng behind him. The other sect disciples followed in their wake.
As for the other four entrances, four waves of people left each of them. Even Peacock Mountain's team that was in the midst of the crowd wasn't standing next to Shu Xian, either.
"What's going on?" said Huang Sicheng, looking ahead of him while frowning.
"The people that got here earlier are in conflict due to some verbal argument. Lord Shu Xian from Peacock Mountain broke through just recently, but, for some unknown reason, was ostracized by the rest of her sect. Afterwards, that escalated to an inner conflict, and finally, the other sects also became involved..." a middle-aged Taoist answered him carefully.
Huang Sicheng was inwardly happy when he heard that. He looked around for a bit and quickly found Shen Youyou's silhouette in the middle of the large crowd.
Last time, it was this woman that sent him packing as soon as he passed through the district competition. This time, if he had the chance, he would certainly take revenge for the sword strike he'd received last time.
Just as they were speaking, a commotion broke out on the other side.
A monk with a slovenly appearance appeared, strolling onward slowly as he walked out of one of the exits.
"Shu Xian, so you actually managed to break through as well. What a coincidence! How about we spar and see what's strongeryour Peacock Secret Arts or my Sun Covering Secret Arts."
"Yuan Ba?" The strong wind around Shu Xian's body quickly came to a stop and her expression slowly became grave. Obviously, the other party's agreement pressured her quite a bit.
"Fight already, quit wasting time!" Yuan Ba put his hand behind his back and pulled out a bronze bell hammer, rushing towards Shu Xian. [ED/N: Bell is probably some sort of description or mistake, since later the author just says "bronze hammer"... we will find out later I suppose]
Three of the feathers behind Shu Xian's body suddenly lit up and the fierce wind formed a gray tornado, ruthlessly charging towards Yuan Ba.
The tornado was dispersed with a swing from Yuan Ba's hammer, but at the cost of his charge being stopped. Shu Xian took advantage of it and increased the distance between them.
The two started fighting without any further words. As for the people from the other sects, they gathered around to enjoy the spectacle.
However, a moment later, people from the Heaven Lotus Sect came to stop them, and only then did the two reluctantly cease fighting.
Dispatched by the Heaven Lotus Sect, a Taoist stood exactly in the middle of the square and started to explain the rules of the next round of the competition in a loud voice.
"The rules are the same as the last time," the Taoist said loudly. "We dispatched people to count the number of victories who will keep track of the score. Ladies and gentlemen, you may choose to fight alone or together in a groupit's up to you. Victories are counted on the basis of whole sects, so we'll only consider a sect to have lost if all of its representatives are defeated or a sect concedes defeat as a whole. There may be no more than three participants per sect."
The changes in the rules caused some ripples among many of the sect disciples. Some people started to harbor dark thoughts as they began to stare at those from opposing sects they wanted revenge against. There were also a few people with higher abilities who didn't care about that, their stares fixed only on those who they knew to be their match all along.
Lu Sheng, He Xiangzi, and Li Xiuying were together with others. Lu Sheng would act as a guard, protecting Li Xiuying throughout the series of matches.
Unexpectedly, Li Xiuying brought back only victories as she won two matches. Her opponents seemed not to be intent on fighting until the endif they stumbled upon her, they would fight a little bit without much care, then just concede.
But, Li Xiuying wasn't surprised by it; it seemed like she had already expected that.
"Don't be surprised," said Yue Shengya as she smiled, standing beside Lu Sheng. "This is the off-field battle our senior apprentice sister excels at. Senior apprentice sister had already taken care of a lot of opponents long before the match started."
'Isn't this the same as me?' Lu Sheng realized. Victory or defeat didn't have to be decided through martial arts.
The sects quickly started challenging their respective opponents. After Li Xiuying won her matches, Lu Sheng brought He Xiangzi over to the side and sat down to watch the battles calmly.
He wouldn't go challenge others, and other sects wouldn't come harass him without a reason. It was only proper for him to save his energy for later matches.
One by one, the first seats of the sects have started fighting. People who didn't participate in the fights had already left the field, leaving behind only the top three of each sect.
Now, Shu Xian and Yuan Ba started fighting again. There was a large empty circle around them, for other people had already left in advance.
The fierce wind and the bronze hammer continuously struck at each other with a whistling noise. The people nearby didn't dare approach; even the spectators in the distance felt their overwhelming power.
"Are we supposed to engage in such a chaotic fight?" He Xiangzi asked in a silly manner. As she never made it out of the district stage, she was confused, not knowing what to do after she saw the chaotic fight before her.
Lu Sheng took out a bottle of sour plum soup that was distributed to them, then opened it and drank a sip.
"With people from the Heaven Lotus Sect keeping track of the score, it's alright to just challenge those you want to fight. The rule was written such that it'd incite confusion and chaos, so as the fights start, it'll naturally become a chaotic mess," he responded casually.
They were at the edge of the square, and found a spot with some shade to sit down and rest at. While drinking their sour plum soup, they watched the fighting as if it was merely entertainment for them.
Speaking of it, it was oddconsidering the fact that everyone present in the square should have had impressive power, their fight should be like heavenly lightning striking the ground and causing it to erupt into flames. With such a vast amount of power, the destructiveness should have been astonishing.
But when the people present started to fight, the power they unleashed was a mere fraction of what they could normally wield.
The giant turtle that lay in the corner of the square was emitting invisible fluctuations that were suppressing the power of everyone's secret arts.
It was the same even for extremely powerful secret artsthey might be able to shatter the tiles, but their power was still a far cry from what it was outside the square.
Lu Sheng looked at the large turtle thoughtfully.
The two sat there for a long while until finally someone ran over to challenge them.
"Great Yin Yang Billowing Clouds Sect's Zhao Cheng, here to challenge the two of the Prime Devil Sect." The person that came was a young boy who looked like he was only fifteen or sixteen and had yet to lose his childish innocence. He looked clever, but the aura around his body seemed a little weak. Obviously, he planned on taking two victories from Lu Sheng and He Xiangzi.
Additionally, it seemed probable that his sect sent him to probe Lu Sheng.
When He Xiangzi heard it, she stood up immediately.
"So it's actually Little King of Hell of the Billowing Clouds Sect. I was impolite. My name is He Xiangzi, thank you for coming to"
Before she could even finish her sentence, Lu Sheng pushed her a bit and had her sit back down.
"We concede," Lu Sheng said to Zhao Cheng seriously.
"Ah?" Zhao Cheng was about to take out his blade and fight, and didn't in the least expect Lu Sheng to say something like that. He was instantly dumbfounded.
The opponent was able to say that they conceded with such ease... this attitude didn't seem like that of someone who came to participate in this great competition at all. The other sects would do whatever it took in hopes of getting a better rank for themselves, but Lu Sheng was completely the opposite.
"This... Alright..." he said helplessly. What else could he do against someone who already admitted defeat? He could only walk away.
After conceding five matches, the right to challenge freely was given up as well. His goal of getting victories was also met.
"Junior Apprentice Brother Lu... This..." He Xiangzi had no idea what Lu Sheng was thinking at all. She looked dumbfounded.
Lu Sheng sighed, knowing that He Xiangzi had simply no idea what situation the Prime Devil Sect was in these days.
The issue the Prime Devil Sect faced now wasn't ranking. In fact, after entering the second round, their number of wins already surpassed the amount the Prime Devil Sect got in the past, and it was no longer at the very bottom. There was easily room to spare to even be placed stably at rank 60.
Because they made it here, Huang Sicheng and the other people that came with them pretty much had no chance of winning many matches at all. Their main forces would be crippled by the first and second seats of other sects as soon as possible. This would result in their ranking not changing much at all compared to the first round.
So, whether they fought or not didn't make much of a difference.
What Lu Sheng really worried about were the Wandering Gods that had made a move behind the scenes. Having lost the three snake experts at the Prime Devil Sect, it would have been weird if the other side hadn't gone ballistic. There was no way that they'd be let off easily.
As for the ranking, it was insignificantit might well be improved during the next meeting. The crucial thing was to rank high enough so that the inheritance of the sect wouldn't be broken.
"Senior Apprentice Sister, we only have to find Bai Qingtang and hold her up in a fight, and we'll fulfill our promise with Li Xiuying.
Lu Sheng looked towards the Ice Valley's people.
Li Xiuying and Yue Shengya were both matched up with genuine opponents this time. They were actual strong people from the sects, not someone they've already made a deal with outside in advance.
Both girls were in a predicament. It seemed like their first loss was only a matter of time.
Lu Sheng's gaze passed over them, towards the Peacock Mountain's group. They wore very distinct clothing; most of them were girls, dressed in purple robes with decorations resembling a peacock's fan-shaped tail on their back.
Bai Qingtang was really easy to recognize. She was the most beautiful girl among the Peacock Mountain's group, and the strongest girl except for her senior apprentice sister Shu Xian.
Lu Sheng confirmed her identity from afar and stood up.
"Senior Apprentice Sister, wait here and don't move. If anyone challenges you, just admit defeat. There is no point in fighting. Everyone here is stronger than you."
He Xiangzi felt a little dejected, but knew Lu Sheng was right, so she nodded.
"Okay, where is Junior Apprentice Brother going, then?"
"Me? I'm going to try and see whether I can complete my deal with Li Xiuying." Lu Sheng did some stretches and headed towards the Peacock Building.
"Eh? Wait, I will go too!" He Xiangzi stood up and hurriedly followed.
At this time outside the plaza, on an empty field. Disciples from the lower three sects who came to watch the battle filled the Jasper Palace's upper floors.
Everyone here was from sects that lost in the districts.
In front of one of the windows in the building.
"Look over there!" Chen Yunxiang suddenly exclaimed. Zhan Kongning and Zhan Hongshen, who were standing besides her, immediately looked over.
"Isn't that junior apprentice brother Lu Sheng from the Prime Devil Sect?" Zhan Kongshen said in surprise.
"That conceited Lu Sheng who fancies himself?" Zhan Hongshen was also shocked. "He was able to make it out of his district and enter the second round?"
It seemed unbelievable. Even she and her brother were kicked out.
They happened to be in the same region as Yuan Ba. Yuan Ba was at the level of Shu Xian, and also just broke through to the seventh vein.
He wasn't someone a sixth vein like Kong Zhanning could take anymore.
At the Bind level, seventh and sixth veins were levels with a huge difference between them. Be it the poison from the Black Membrane or the control and growth of the body's speed and strength, the two levels were just too different.
"Maybe we saw wrong?" Zhan Hongning said defiantly.
But Zhan Kongning forced a smile. "No, we didn't see wrong. It was brother Lu alright." He was also somewhat filled with disbelief. "Maybe it's because all the sects in their district were weak?"
"That's true. I know that Ice Valley, which is known for being weak, is in the same district as them," Chen Yunxiang agreed.
She got into the same district as Shu Xian, and was instantly defeated by that woman. There was no fluke involved.
"I suppose all the first seats got beaten up by the strongest one, so they found a chance to sneak past them, no?" Zhan Hongning said jealously.
"Maybe Okay, it started. Brother Lu seems like he's gonna challenge Peacock Mountain," Zhan Kongning said in a low voice.