Duze Beixuan struggled to control his emotions. He was a mess inside—confused, angry, jealous...
He had always looked down on Li Luo. They were both young lords of their houses, but Li Luo had spent his whole life in the lowly Tianshu Province, plus he used to be a blank palace cultivator. By everything Duze Beixuan knew, Li Luo was a mediocre man through and through.
Li Luo might have suddenly risen to take first place at the Tianshu Province exams, but he had not taken it too seriously. After all, the Tianshu Province was a middle-of-the-pack kind of province. So what if Li Luo had won?
He himself was a lower eighth-grade resonance user. He outclassed Li Luo in both talent and potential, and had the sense of superiority to accompany the reality.
Li Luo's parents were special, he could not deny that. His own father had been beaten by Li Taixuan 18 times. It was not common knowledge in the Xia Kingdom, but neither was it a secret.
For him, none of that mattered. The last generation's business stayed with them. As long as he could crush Li Luo like a bug, then everyone would understand that each generation started afresh.
He, the young lord of House Duze, was fit to crush the young lord of House Luolan.
And all had gone as he had planned, until Li Luo revealed his double resonances... It was bizarre, unexpected, and stressful.
"No way!" Duze Beixuan shouted. He swung his battleaxe wildly with a volatile burst of resonant power. It smashed the tree branches into pieces, then he turned to attack Li Luo again.
Li Luo was quicker.
"Tiger-general resonance art, Arboreal Bindings!"
All the trees in their vicinity shuddered to life, glowing green. A ferocious, howling wind picked up, and giant tree branches shot towards Duze Beixuan, binding him.
Duze Beixuan howled dementedly. His battleaxe chopped left and right as he spent both physical and resonant power with wild abandon.
He cut all of the coiling branches cleanly with each cut.
Duze Beixuan realized that the resonant power behind them was not particularly strong, which meant that Li Luo's resonance grade should not be very high.
That at least was a consolation.
"Trying to bind me with this pathetic thing? You wish!" He sneered as he chopped away in a frenzy. He started to inch towards Li Luo.
Li Luo was not at all surprised by this outcome. His woodearth resonance was only a fourth-grade. Even with a tiger-general resonance art, it was hard to pose any real threat to Duze Beixuan.
Except this was just the beginning.
Putting his hands together, he called forth his water resonance power. "Tiger-general resonance art, Heavy Water Art!"
His water resonance power flowed forth in navy-blue streams. They landed on the flying branches.
Green and blue melded, and the tree branches lashed out at Duze Beixuan with renewed vengeance. Duze Beixuan leaped to meet them again.
But this time, he felt a pang of fear. He found that his battleaxe could no longer cut through them. The vines and branches were much stronger now.
Water dripped from the branches, and each drop that landed on his battleaxe made it heavier and heavier.
"Heavy Water Art?"
Duze Beixuan was scared now. Li Luo had fused the Arboreal Bindings with the Heavy Water Art. This made the Arboreal Bindings much stronger, just like how a water-soaked whip would lash out with much greater force.
More heavy branches flew at him from behind. This time, he did not dodge in time, taking a painful lashing across his shoulders.
His clothing split immediately, as did the skin beneath, exposing fresh blood.
Duze Beixuan saw red. With a demented bellow, his battleaxe moved again, a scything dance of steel that put up a flawless defense.
Peng! Peng! Peng!
The tree branches were snake-like whips, lashing out at him with punition. Even though his defense was solid, it was gradually worn down.
Li Luo watched the harangued Duze Beixuan cheerfully, using the back of his bow to whittle some branches down into wooden arrows.
He nocked one, drew, and fired.
It flew through the gaps of the branches with a shrill whistling sound and buried itself in Duze Beixuan.
It was not a particularly deadly move—about half a finger's depth was not going to kill anyone. Still... the humiliation was incredible.
Li Luo did not even enter the fight directly. He stood outside, firing wooden arrows one after another until Duze Beixuan was starting to look like a porcupine.
Duze Beixuan was going mad with anger. These wooden arrows weren't too threatening, but the humiliation was eating away at him from the inside.
"Li Luo, you rat! Are you too afraid to face me in a man-to-man fight?!" he howled.
At the same time, he was starting to panic. The waterlogged branches were wearing down his resonant power reserves very quickly.
He could feel himself growing weaker by the moment.
Along with Li Luo's constant harassment, he was really in a bad situation.
He raved on, trying to goad Li Luo into a close-combat fight. That way, he would stand a slim chance of turning the tables. But Li Luo was too shrewd to fall for this. He responded to each verbal insult with a physical stinging instead.
Son of a bitch!
Finally, Duze Beixuan's knees buckled. Several branches sent the battleaxe flying, while several more trussed up his hands and feet.
In the blink of an eye, all that was left exposed was his head.
Duze Beixuan struggled furiously, but his heart sank. There was no way he was getting out of these branches reinforced by the Heavy Water Art.
Li Luo picked up the battleaxe and pointed it at his face. "Well, here I am now," he said seriously.
"Come on, then. Let's fight a fair mat-achh! Ugh!"
Mid-shout, one tree branch lunged into his mouth and stuffed it for him.
Li Luo shook his head with disappointment.
"The first match between the young lords of House Duze and House Luolan, ending in a no-show by the cowardly Duze Beixuan."
Duze Beixuan was so angry that he fainted on the spot.
When his eyes rolled back into his head, Li Luo sighed with relief. He himself was getting pale, and he quickly dispelled the branches.
He sat down on the ground to catch his breath.
If Duze Beixuan had held on any longer, he would have crumbled too. A fourth-grade wood resonance was a little too weak. The wood resonant power was a little too thin for his needs.
Still, it had tided him over this one.
His head perked up again. Shen Jinxiao had appeared before him.
The Violet Vibrance mentor stared at him with an odd look.
"Oh, Mentor Shen, here again?"
Li Luo welcomed him with a smile. "Have you had lunch?" he asked cheerfully.
Shen Jinxiao looked at him. "Li Luo," he said slowly, "who would have thought that you were hiding a dual resonance... I have underestimated you."
Li Luo laughed. "Who goes out into the world without a few trump cards?"
Shen Jinxiao nodded. "You truly are the son of Li Taixuan and Tan Tailan."
"Mentor Shen, what have you got planned next?" Li Luo asked.
Shen Jinxiao did not reply, but a deadly look flashed in his eyes. He quelled it. Not even a Violet Vibrance mentor could break the rules of the Astral Sage College. If he did, no other place would accept him, even though he was a Duke Stage expert.
"If you've got nothing planned... I guess it's my turn?" Li Luo beamed at him.
Shen Jinxiao said nothing, his eyes narrowing.
Li Luo sat on the ground and looked up to the sky. He took a deep, deep breath, then shouted, "HEY VIOLET VIBRANCE MENTORS! AM I NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU?!" His shout echoed through the forest.
Silence. A few moments later, the sky shook, and suddenly four Violet Vibrance mentors descended from the sky.
Boom, boom, boom!
Four pillars of violet light landed around Li Luo. In each was a violet talisman, shining with light.
It was the epitome of luxury.
Evidently, all four other Violet Vibrance mentors had been awaiting this moment. No longer caring about Shen Jinxiao, they had extended themselves to Li Luo directly.