The Devilwind Kundrake also had a peng form, and few saint beasts could actually match it! At this moment, Li Linghe was wielding his Flowstream Sword and standing on the kundrake. The moment the kundrake roared, the river shuddered and a huge body of water began to roll into a big wave. The roar was deep and ancient, almost like a whale's mysterious song.
The kundrake dove straight into the waves and caused a huge splash as Li Linghe danced about with his sword, earning him the cheers and applause of the audience. The moment he struck, the river before him made way for a huge stream of water-type sword ki that shot toward Tianming.
He had studied the blade for years, so the praises some seniors had for a talentless hack like Tianming greatly displeased him. He didn't fit what a sword-wielder should look like: just and righteous! That was exactly what Li Linghe was like. He carried himself with such an aura and bearing, and his sword strike carried his will!
"Foul scum, begone!"
The seniors were awed by the strike. But right at that moment, Tianming quietly pierced his sword into the river.
The river didn't shake—no, it was the earth that was shaking!
Demise of Earth, Earth-Quaker! The strong earthquake caused the waves to shake and rise up even higher. In the next instant, a strand of Grand Thunderflare Sword ki surged, and Earth-Quaker broke through Li Linghe's Flowstream Sword Ki.
"Forget using a sword before you, you said?" Tianming smirked. Little did they know that he had risen a level higher with Spiritual Attachment! To the current Tianming, Li Linghe was only as powerful as Li Kunxu from before! Sometimes, he wondered if the real monster was himself or Jiang Feiling.
With her Spiritual Attachment, his aura soared. After his Earth-Quaker, he followed up with Hell-Shaker. He flew into the skies and spread his wings; they could be formless or visible. Nobody expected him to be so agile in the air, but that wasn't the crucial point. Tianming had executed Hell-Shaker by slashing downwards as he was falling.
It took only a single slash! Li Linghe's rage was burning. He countered with his Heaven-defying Flowstream Mantra as he soared skywards. At the moment of the mantra's execution, countless spikes from the Devilwind Kundrake shot out and merged with the storm of wind and water that was coursing towards Tianming.
Numerous clangs rang out as something deflected those spikes. It was as if there was a formless wall before Tianming; it was none other than Feiling’s Spatial Wall! But as Feiling hadn't mastered the technique yet, the wall fell apart just as Tianming's slash collided with Li Linghe's!
Hell-Shaker, as its name implied, was able to send reverberations through the entirety of hell. Li Linghe coughed out a mouthful of blood, shrieked in pain, then fell straight toward his kundrake. Had his beast not evaded in time, Li Linghe would've found himself impaled by its spikes. He was actually defeated!
He landed on the back of the kundrake and suffered serious injuries, immediately losing consciousness and slumping against the kundrake's body. His grip loosened and the Flowstream Sword fell into the river. It took only two moves—Li Linghe and his beast hadn’t even had a chance to show off in that timeframe—for Li Tianming to completely crush his opponent. It was complete domination in a battle where an eighth-level Spiritsource beastmaster fought against a third-level Unity beastmaster with three bane-rings!
Seeing Li Linghe coughing out blood and fainting, everyone from the Wind Bloodline was at loss for words.
"Thank god you passed out. I can't even begin to imagine how humiliating it must be to be defeated in a mere two moves by someone you judged to be unworthy of the sword," Tianming chuckled. He had to admit that Li Linghe was pretty decent. If he didn't have Feiling's support, he might have had to fight with his chick and cat in tow, and use Apocalyptic-WIll.
However, Spiritual Attachment made it much easier. That was why he absolutely had to bring Feiling out with him. Even with her five sealed abilities stolen, she was still far too precious.
"Gentlemen, the Devilwind Kundrake still remains. Should I continue fighting?" he asked when he saw the beast still roaring towards him.
In fact, victory had already been decided. The Devilwind Kundrake was undoubtedly strong, but it could do naught but growl without being able to fight back. Its beastmaster had lost too quickly! As for the kundrake itself, even it didn't know if it should continue the onslaught, especially with how relaxed Tianming was; not to mention the evil glances the chick was giving it.
"Stop the fight!" Li Xuanhe said. He rushed out and cradled his son with a horrid expression on his face.
But Tianming wasn’t going to let him off so easily.
"Li Xuanhe, let me ask you now whether my five bane-rings or his three are more impressive. Are they really tattooed on, as you suggested earlier? Do you still think my hair is dyed? Do you think I'm unworthy of becoming the junior sect master?" One question after another hit where it hurt without mercy. By the end of Tianming’s rebuke, it was as if he were shoving his face straight against Li Xuanhe's own.
Li Xuanhe used his beast ki to revitalize Li Linghe, healing his body in the meantime. He kept his head lowered without answering Tianming.
"How about the others, then?" Tianming said as he turned to them. "Li Linghe has been defeated. Any other challengers?"
All the sons of the various branch heads took a few steps back. They were terrified enough of Li Linghe already, to say nothing of someone who could defeat him in a mere two blows.
"Li Chenhong, Li Tianyu, and the other branch heads, do you acknowledge that I have five bane-rings now? If not, feel free to come up with an explanation as to how someone like me at the eighth level of Spiritsource can dominate Li Linghe, as I have, and why I can comprehend and use a simplified heavenly-ranked technique. If you can come up with one, I'll take your word for it."
Tianming shot his gaze across the lot of them, who stared back with gritted teeth. They were beyond frustrated, yet they had no answer to his questions. They knew better than anyone that only someone with five bane-rings could possibly achieve such a feat. It didn't help that Feiling's terrifying boost to his power was something they weren't aware of.
Seeing them speechless and awkward, Li Jingyu was overjoyed. "Now, does anyone still doubt this is my grandson? I won't deny that he doesn't have a kunpeng, but his lifebound beasts also share his five bane-rings! For him to have those rings, he is unquestionably a descendant of the Apex Branch. Who else but my son, with his four bane-rings, could give rise to Tianming? He might not have a Void Kunpeng now, but who's to say his children won't?
"While his lifebound beast came from his maternal side and is of a lesser breed, it can always evolve into a saint beast now that he's here in the Grand-Orient Sect! So, who’s still displeased with making him the junior sect master?"
Nobody could come out with a retort to her words. Lifebound beasts had inherent potential for evolution, after all, and saint beasts weren't all that precious in and of themselves. Beasts with five bane-rings were the real treasure! With a beast that could execute a simplified heavenly-ranked technique, who would care about whether it was a Void Kunpeng? What if Tianming's descendents all had five bane-rings? There was no answer from the crowd; they were completely struck dumb. Only Li Chenhong managed to force out, "How can we tell if this chick is really a pentabane?"
"Well, I'll show you my tickle pits then," said the chick as it raised its left wing, before Tianming abruptly pressed it down.
"Can't you tell left from right? Idiot!" He was so terrified tears were already forming. The bane-rings were on his right hand, yet the chick tried to show the marks on its left wing, almost letting slip that he was a decabane!
"Huh? Isn't this right?" said the chick as it looked to its left wing.
"I can’t even...." Tianming awkwardly held down its left wing and raised its right to show the crowd. There were five black dots on it!
"I'll have to paint the dots on your left wing yellow when we get back!" Tianming conveyed telepathically. With how birdbrained Ying Huo was, there was no saying when he'd let it slip. Being a pentabane had already caused so much commotion, to say nothing of what would happen if he were discovered to be a decabane. It was best to keep at least half of his talent hidden.
After they saw the bane-marks on the chick, they promptly shut up. At least as long as Tianming was here, they had no chance of getting Li Wudi to adopt their son.
"If there’s nothing more, you should all leave," Jingyu said, face full of smiles. Despite the time this whole charade had wasted, she was feeling amazing. The gaze she shot at her precious grandson was full of love. The more she looked at him, the more she liked him!
However, even now, someone was trying to ruin the mood: Li Xuanhe. His son had just regained consciousness and was looking at Tianming with a pale face and grit teeth. Li Xuanhe knew that the loss had traumatized his son. He turned to Jingyu and said, "It's pointless even if you convince us to accept him as the junior sect master. We never had the right to decide the affairs of the Apex Branch in the first place. What you really need is for the other three bloodlines to acknowledge it! If you want to use challenges like these to prove Li Tianming's claim, let's see if he can take on the youths from the other bloodlines! Those of the Wind Bloodline are at the bottom tier. You can't imagine how far ahead the rest are from us!"
He really went all out without holding back. His stance was that those of the Seven Starry Branches would no longer stand behind the Apex Branch, leaving them to face the three bloodlines themselves, completely ignoring his initial promise before the battle took place.
It was one thing for him to not stand behind the Apex Branch. For him to not outright support the other bloodlines when his son was so harshly beaten was already a mercy to the Apex Branch.
"No, you're wrong. They didn't just suddenly race past the Seven Starry Branches. Instead, it's you who couldn't manage to keep up with them, resulting in the current gap!" Jingyu said with a snide chuckle. All of them in the fallen sect had hardships in their fight for survival.
Li Xuanhe merely laughed. He looked at his son and felt all the more pity for him. In the end, he saw Li Qingyu. "By the way, five days from now, Li Xuanyi from the Metal Bloodline will definitely be coming to discuss marriage matters between his son, Li Jincan, and Qingyu. She's about to turn sixteen in a few days, after all. According to Li Wudi and Li Jincan's bet, Qingyu will be wedded to his son once she comes of age!
"Li Wudi really was a fool to have made that bet. He had the sect elders bear witness to the bet, only to lose so horribly himself! Li Xuanyi will definitely use the council of elders to pressure you to honor the bet. He really lucked out this time. To think that his trashy, fat and ugly son could get a beautiful genius like Qingyu as his wife. Qingyu, you're even more talented than Linghe, my own son. It's a shame your father is such a fool! Enjoy your tragic marriage!" When he finished his tirade, Xuanhe turned and left with the rest of his bloodline. What came next no longer had anything to do with him! The others only shook their heads and left, all of them looking at Qingyu, fully knowing how much of a shame the marriage was.
The council of elders' rulings were absolute, so this could no longer be changed. While Qingyu herself still looked calm, Tianming noted that she was tightly clenching her fists in her long sleeves. Her frail body shuddered slightly.
"Don't be afraid, my granddaughter. If they try taking you, I will stop them even if it costs my life!"
Tianming watched on in silence. He had heard from Jingyu that the council of elders was the highest authority in the Grand-Orient Sect. The elders from the various lines of the sect within the council held absolute control. Five days later, the other three bloodlines would come. Whether Tianming could claim the position of junior sect master still depended on how that encounter turned out.Previous Chapter Next Chapter