When Lu Qing'er appeared on the screen, surrounded on all sides, there were looks of consternation back outside Whitespirit Mountain.
"That's Southwind Academy's Lu Qing'er? First on the leaderboard?"
"She's being targeted? That's Shi Huang, and Xiang Liang, Chi Su, Zong Fu. Hoo. All the top few in points."
"Southwind Academy is in trouble now. Shi Huang came well prepared. He must have plotted this earlier. If they can knock Lu Qing'er out, then Eastpool Academy will probably overtake Southwind Academy by eliminating their leader."
"Cheeky lads, ganging up on such a beautiful, wee lass."
"Well, no such rule. Lu Qing'er was careless, is all."
The chatter swelled with excitement. No matter which side you were on, this battle promised to be the most spectacular one in these exams.
In the pavilion, Yan Lingqing and Cai Wei were staring at the crystal wall, faces stiff.
"Lu Qing'er is in trouble," Cai Wei said.
"They're ganging up on Southwind Academy," Yan Lingqing said shrewdly.
They had accurately pinpointed Lu Qing'er's location, then Shi Huang had come personally. He had even invited three others who were currently on the top 5 standings. They were giving Lu Qing'er no room to escape.
Cai Wei scowled. Li Luo was from Southwind Academy, so naturally she was on Lu Qing'er's side. Besides, Lu Qing'er had helped the Suncreek Villa out before, so of course Cai Wei did not want to see her eliminated.
Still, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
In the main pavilion, the atmosphere had become stifling. It seemed like the air itself had gone still.
It was the old dean's turn for a black mood. His body pulsed with a robust resonant power, casting an aura of intimidation around him.
Nearby, Governor Shi sat unfazed, a small smile playing across his lips.
"Governor Shi must have gone to great lengths to plan this, eh?" the old dean asked curtly.
This plot did not only involve Eastpool Academy, but even conspirators from three different schools. This was a plot long in the works, and no sudden get-together.
Xiang Liang, Chi Su, and Zong Fu were mere students. The fact that they would choose to work together with Shi Huang meant that their respective schools had given them such direction. And the only one in the Tianshu Province capable of uniting multiple major schools against Southwind Academy was Governor Shi himself.
"Southwind Academy has held the title of best school for too long," Governor Shi said cheerfully. "This is but the will of the masses."
"Governor Shi, your coming to the Tianshu Province can be likened to a rat dropping in a cauldron of soup," the dean said caustically.
A hint of anger flashed in Governor Shi's eyes. He stated simply, "My hand was forced by you, Dean."
"Don't worry. This year at the royal court evaluation, I will give you a poor review again. At that time, Governor Shi will probably give up the position," the dean said icily.
Governor Shi responded with an equally cold smile. "Oh, don't worry. If you lose the title of best school, then Southwind Academy's evaluation holds no weight."
Electricity sizzled in their mutual glare, a wordless communication of anger and hate that only heightened the tension in the main pavilion.
Mentor Anlie just sat there, ignoring their altercation. He had seen all too many of such politicking. As long as no rules were broken, he would not step in.
He was completely focused on the crystal wall. Inwardly, he thought that the lass Lu Qing'er was in a pitiful position...
Within the expanse of broken buildings.
Lu Qing'er's cold gaze was fixed on Shi Huang, who was in front of her. "You must have gone to great lengths to put this show together," she said, her voice ringing out clear and cool.
"A gesture of my great respect for you, Qing'er." Shi Huang smirked.
She shook her head slightly, knowing that words were useless. Her petite frame surged with icy-white resonant power, and her ice-silk gloves began to freeze over with flakes. It was almost like a tiger's tongue; a light graze would tear into flesh.
These custom ice-silk gloves were Lu Qing'er's weapons.
The other three began to harness their resonant power as well. Each readied their weapons as they stared mercilessly at Lu Qing'er.
The tension was palpable.
In the next instant, the three moved as one, each from their respective direction. Three beams of light shot forth, caging Lu Qing'er.
Lu Qing'er's own ice resonant power flared out to meet them. She did not back away, but instead took the fight to them.
As her power howled around her, the air around them grew thicker, and patches of frost could be seen on the cracked ground beneath them.
The four resonant powers clashed in spectacular fashion. But the ones who were dismayed were the three attackers. They could sense the power behind Lu Qing'er's ice resonant power, sweeping away their own attacks.
"It's really a Ninth Seal's power!"
"A high-grade seventh-grade ice resonance!"
Then the three attacked again.
"Crimson Fire Palm!" Xiang Liang shouted, pushing his fire resonant power to his palms. A flaming crimson palm print flew towards Lu Qing'er.
"Poison Ivy Hex!"
Clasping her hands together, Chi Su sent her venom-green power snaking out along the ground, forming green tendrils that whipped out at Lu Qing'er's feet.
Zong Fu waved his long sleeves and sent a blue whip flying through the air. It was packed with moist power, aimed at Lu Qing'er's head.
They had clearly coordinated this beforehand. Their well-choreographed attack targeted Lu Qing'er's vitals.
Lu Qing'er stomped her foot, and an icy-blue halo shimmered into existence around her body. It expanded smoothly, freezing all that it touched. The three attacks were nullified.
Lu Qing'er did not. She charged Xiang Liang, her dainty hands already moving, calling forth more icy wind as she moved, so they would have to fight in the bitter chill.
Lu Qing'er's onslaught overwhelmed Xiang Liang in an instant. If not for Zong Fu and Chi Su coming to his rescue, he would have fallen all too quickly.
The chaotic melee in the ruins was hard to keep track of.
It was three on one, but everyone could see that Lu Qing'er held the upper hand.
Such fighting ability left the spectators in awe. What beauty! What skills!
Seeing the situation on the verge of souring, Xiang Liang finally roared to their mastermind, "Shi Huang, what are you waiting for?!"
Just as he shouted, a shrill thunderclap echoed across the wreckage. A bolt of lightning streaked towards Lu Qing'er.
Her eyes hardened at this new attack, but she was still unhurried. After all, she already knew that Shi Huang would join the fray eventually.
Her ice resonant power gathered at her silk gloves, and they seemed to be shrouded in crystals.
Her palm darted out to connect with the lightning spear.
Ice and lightning clashed and scattered across the field.
Lu Qing'er was shaken slightly, while the attacker was sent retreating.
This might be the first time in the exams that Lu Qing'er had not had the upper hand in battle.
Worry crept up on her youthful features as her eyes tracked the crackling figure. "A high-grade seventh-grade lightning resonance. Formidable."
"Qing'er, your high-grade seventh-grade ice resonance is equally deserving of respect," Shi Huang replied jauntily.
"Still, you're not getting away today."
Lu Qing'er remained quiet for a few beats. Shi Huang and her were evenly matched. With his three lackeys in the fight, she was indeed at a disadvantage.
But if they thought that was all it would take to get Lu Qing'er to come quietly, they were naive.
"Since you want to play, I'll entertain you till the last," Lu Qing'er said coldly.
They felt a chill run down their scalps at those words.
All eyes on her. Lu Qing'er stretched out her hands and gently removed her ice-silk gloves.
With that, her bare hands were now exposed.
Their eyes narrowed. Shi Huang was suddenly looking serious too.
"Is she finally going to use that trump card..."Previous Chapter Next Chapter