Chapter 43: Victory and Defeat
Seeing that his snake had been crushed from only one attack by the young man in front of him, the Three-Star Warrior raised an eyebrow in surprise. He was incredibly shocked but also excited. A smile appeared on his face and he retreated backwards, ended up directly into yet another stance. His body strung like a bowstring, and the sound of waves could be heard as Qi once more billowed out from the back of the expert. The Qi gathered in waves which swept over the stage, headed straight for Xu Min.
Seeing the wave, Xu Min was not panicking as he once more unsheathed his sword and pouring his Qi into the arms. “Hyaa!” Xu Min yelled out as he swung the sword in his hands against the tidal wave in front of him. As soon as the tip touched the wave, Xu Min’s own energy attacked the wave and slow-moving ripples of energy disappeared. It opened a small pathway in the waves and allowed for him to safely get through without being crushed.
The wave clashed against an invisible barrier around the arena. Buhe young man had no time to look at this barrier because he was focused fully on the battle in front of him.
Having chopped down the snake and forced his way through the Qi wave, Xu Min could feel that he had used quite a significant amount of Qi. Although he was an external expert, someone who used far less Qi for each attack than the internal experts. However, he was currently against a Three-Star Warrior, someone who was far stronger than Xu Min and forced the young man to use all the power at his disposal. Twice he had gone against the opponent and twice he had gotten through the dangers which were opposing him. The price had been expensive as his Qi was already low, but his physical body was still bursting with energy. Xu Min launched himself towards the expert.
The most vulnerable time for an internal expert was when they had finished casting a stance and before they were capable of taking another one. If the stance had been broken through, much like Xu Min just had done now, the internal expert was standing with one very big decision to make. If he was going to back off, he needed to forcefully stop the attack happening which was the wave which he had casted out. Forcefully exiting a stance would cause injury to oneselves. The stronger the attack, the more damage it would do to oneself. Another problem was that when someone forcefully cut the link to the Qi attack, one would lose all the Qi that was within the attack. This did not allow for any of the Qi to return to the body. Instead, it would dissipate into the air, making the expert end in a less favourable position. The other option was to hope that the opponent was incapable of reaching him in time and let the attack die out on its own before he took on another stance.
Looking at the young man dashing towards him, the Three-Star Warrior gritted his teeth as he forcefully cut the link between him and the Qi he had sent out of his body. He allowed himself to jump backwards and instantly take another stance.
Although this expert was in no way an external one, he still had some speed which made it possible for him to dodge just far enough to avoid a hit from Xu Min’s sword. Standing further back, the Three-Star Warrior was in a bad position as Xu Min had pushed him further back. He was so close to the corner of the arena that he was uncertain whether or not he was going to fall down. Currently finding a place to take a stance was in no way an easy feat.
Being in the corner, Xu Min constantly got closer and closer to the older man. The sword in his hand had been raised slightly, drawn back, and ready to attack. Before he could do this, the expert desperately took a stance causing even more of his Qi to come out. This Qi turned into gale winds, forcing Xu Min backwards and making it impossible for him to advance closer.
Lifting up the sword within his hand, Xu Min managed to block some of the wind and come to a standstill. Moving forward was still hard, but falling further back was now stopped and the two experts were caught in a standstill. Xu Min could not move further up, but the opponent could not stop wasting his Qi. He knew that as soon as he did, Xu Min could once more move closer.
Gritting his teeth, the opponent forced even more Qi out from his body. He pushed back the young man and observed the arena in front of him, calculating how far back he needed the young man to go to be able to put out another stance.
The entire surrounding area was quiet as no one said a word. Everyone was deeply shocked by what they saw in front of them. The majority had at first expected Xu Min to lose within one attack, especially as they saw the snake which had been slithering around the ground. But as soon as it had appeared, the young man who was clearly only a One-Star Warrior had decapitated it. Next, the Qi waves had appeared and once more the young man had managed to get through them without problems. Finally, everyone within the room had understood that the young man who had seemed arrogant actually had the strength to back up his persona. Even the opponent on top of the arena had understood that although he could look down on the majority of the experts below his rank, including many on his own rank, this young man in front of him was clearly different from the other ones he had battled before. To think that a young man who still had traces of childness in his features was this strong. He was clearly a young man with amazing talent.
Although he was thinking like this, the tall expert was aware that he had no time to waste. Instead, he stopped the gale wind of Qi and took another stance. A small stream of blood was leaking out from the corner of his mouth, showing that forcefully canceling his attacks had injured him internally. Although he was injured, his eyes were filled with determination and no signs of giving up could be seen. This was something that caused Xu Min to smile gently and happily as he stayed at a distance, waiting for the next attack.
Although it was risky for Xu Min to take on each attack, he simply had no other choice. To attack, he needed to force the opponent to cancel an attack and then use his own stance to force the opponent out of the arena.
The tall and lanky warrior was fully aware of how Xu Min thought. Although he hated the fact that he needed to follow the expectations of the young man, he had no other choice. If he did not make a stance soon, the young man was going to directly attack him. This left him no room to make a stance and protect himself.
Seeing this, the older man lifted both his arms and took a stance. A white cloud completely surrounded him that quickly rose in size until eventually the entire half stage was filled with this Qi flowing from the older man.
Seeing this, Xu Min gritted his teeth and the sword in his hand started humming as it slowly shot towards the Qi in front of him. This caused the young man to be astonished as the sword itself seemed to absorb the Qi that had filled half the arena.
As soon as the sword had touched the Qi, small snakes appeared and attacked the edge of the sword. As soon as it touched it, the Qi snakes were being absorbed by the sword itself, alongside the Qi filling up the entire arena.
Feeling this, Xu Min felt how the sword in his hands grew in strength. More and more power was sucked up and energy ripples were emitted from the sword; some of it was leaking through the handle and into Xu Min’s arm which was filling his body with foreign Qi. This Qi which slowly went through his body and through the meridians to slowly merge with his own Qi. As this happened, the young man felt how the Qi which had been around the arena slowly made him climb closer and closer to the ranking of a Two-Star Warrior. After only one-third was left behind of the Qi that filled up the arena, Xu Min felt how his body started to tremble. Ever so slowly, his bones started emitting creaking sounds. The dantian inside his body swelled, Qi billowed through his body filling him with strength, and the fatigue he had felt before had completely vanished.
Although Xu Min had just broken into the ranks of a Two-Star Warrior, the sword seemed to not stop just there. It kept sucking up energy from the arena and this energy entered both the sword and Xu Min.
Everyone viewing what was happening were stiff in surprise. They could not understand why the Qi that was meant to attack and protect slowly dissipated like this. All of them were also astonished to see that during this critical moment, the expert was finally breaking through. No one apart from the opponent could feel or see that the Qi was entering Xu Min, strengthening him from the inside.
Who did know what was going on was the opponent who was still hiding within the mist of Qi that kept swirling around him. He could feel how his Qi was being sucked away from him, into something different. He also felt how he was constantly being weakened. Although he was not going lower in rank, the Qi he was losing was no small matter. He had released everything within his ability before the abnormal suction force appeared, sucking up the Qi that had left his body.
Finally, the Qi had gotten so transparent that the older man could see the sword tip which was touching the wall of the Qi. The suction force came from within this sword, something which shocked the taller man deeply. Seeing that his energy was being absorbed, the older man once more forced himself to break one of his stances. Instantly after he took a new stance, the rest of his Qi flew above him where it took the shape of a bow and an arrow. The arrow pointed straight at Xu Min who narrowed his eyes as he saw the weapon pointing his way.
Not wanting to waste time and give the young man enough time to actually prepare for the attack, the older man’s hands made a gesture. As though he let go of an arrow, the Qi arrow instantly followed suit. The arrow rushed towards Xu Min who lifted the sword as a protective shield, hiding behind it. He smiled as he felt how the arrow was turning into splinters before another arrow appeared. Soon, arrows rained down upon Xu Min; however, he was now filled with energy on the inside. His sword hummed with strength and the young man slowly made his way towards the taller man.
Reaching him did not take too long as he managed to block every arrow. As he reached the opponent, it was easy to finish the battle. All he had to do was place the sword at the neck of the opponent who instantly nodded in forfeit.
The opponent had already lost more than four fifths of his energy to the abnormal suction force within the sword. He had used the remaining of his energy to execute the stance where he created a shower of Qi arrows. This ended up draining his last bit of energy, causing him to not even have enough energy to move away from Xu Min as he arrived with his sword.
Smiling, Xu Min went to the middle of the arena, his body bursting with energy. He was far stronger than he had ever experienced before. A smile was on his face as he knew that this had been the best luck he had ever experienced. Although he should know when to stop, Xu Min felt like he could afford to suck up Qi from one more person before he had to go back home to balance his energies. He wanted to continue to prepare for the upcoming tournament.