Halcyon Hotel saw pretty good business most days, its three floors packed with customers. But things were different for them today, as there was only a small group of customers on the third floor.
They were no ordinary customers, but reputable guests from the Lightning Manor of Ignispolis! The hotel staff were informed that the governor and his wife were personally accompanying these guests, and officials from Flamehaven were not even allowed to enter the building. That was enough to suggest how important these guests were.
In the past few days, all the households around the region have been ordered to vacate. No one knew why the governor wanted to empty out the area, nor did they understand what the group was waiting for. A curious crowd had gathered a few hundred meters away from the hotel, interested to see what would unfold in the coming days.
Even more peculiar was the fact that those eminent figures all seem to be staring at the same place, a dilapidated courtyard not far away from the hotel. If anyone were to walk into the courtyard now, they would find nothing but an elderly lady lying on a lawn bench in the garden, dozing off in the gentle sunlight. She was enjoying the final remaining days of her life, just like what she had been doing for the past few days.
Li Yanfeng would occasionally throw a peek at the courtyard too, before quickly diverting his attention somewhere else. For now, he had Liu Qing’s delicate hand in his and a faint smile on his face.
“Today is the seventh day, and that guy still hasn't returned. Did he die in Red Twill Mountain?” Liu Qianyang was seated at one side, more agitated than ever.
“He still retained part of his strength from three years ago, so it’s quite unlikely he’d die there.” Jiang Yilin, the girl that got defeated by Li Tianming back in the mountain, was seated beside Liu Qianyang. In fact, all seven Lightning Manor contestants were seated together. True to their roots, every single one of them had a gallant look.
At one side, the two local talents, Li Zifeng and Li Xuejiao could only hide in one corner, their abilities paling in comparison with the seven.
Other than the seven youths, their parents and guardians were there as well. They had a sour look, considering that they have been doing nothing but looking at the old lady snooze in her lawn chair for seven days.
“Li Tianming is not back yet. Could it be… that his lifebound beast managed to refine the manna?” Zhang Zixuan mumbled anxiously.
“We have ruled out that possibility. The lifebound beast he obtained using a blood pact is just one-star.”
“The blood flowing in an one-star lifebound beast is way too feeble to handle the strength of the manna. Let alone the fact that he has no seniors there to help him regulate this power.”
“Even if Li Tianming could fight, it’s totally because of his past experiences with his previous lifebound beast.” The other youths chattered on. The four of them have never seen Li Tianming before, but they heard enough from the rest of the group.
“The only thing we have to deal with is the jade pendant. At least we know the governor won’t be helping him.” Jiang Yilin stated.
“I don’t understand, why would Princess Qing give him, a useless piece of trash who can’t go past the Beast Vein stage, her personal jade pendant?” Liu Qianyang spat. He hated Li Tianming for taking away the manna that was rightfully his. To think that back at Zephyr Tower, he barely gave a hoot about Li Tianming, but now that pest was back to give him such a headache.
“We have already received approval from Lightning Manor. The moment Li Tianming returns, the first one who takes him down gets the manna.”
“As long as us parents do not get involved and all the fighting is done by the young ones, the manor will help us settle Princess Qing’s side.”
“After all, it was the Lightning Manor that found the manna first, and if Li Tianming wanted to take it he’d better fight for it.”
“Surely the princess can’t complain if our kids take the manna from Li Tianming by defeating him.”
“Don’t overestimate Li Tianming. If he really had connections with Princess Qing, he won’t end up like a cripple in the first place,” Zhang Zixuan scoffed.
At those words, Li Zifeng and Li Xuejiao couldn’t help but shake their heads. It was a cruel world for those who were abandoned. While the youths from Lightning Manor were discussing what to do with Li Tianming, his own father had no reaction and was instead all lovey dovey with his new wife.
“Our only worry now is if this guy took the manna and went to find Princess Qing instead. Then all our waiting will be in vain.” Zhang Zixuan said.
“That’s not possible.” Liu Qianyang shook his head.
“Firstly, he is a filial son. And secondly, he wanted the Flameyellow Order to return to Flameyellow Scions Institute, in order to take revenge on brother Ting.”
“Huh?” The seven youths stared at each, before bursting into laughter unanimously.
“Revenge? On brother Ting?”
“Haha! Why doesn’t he take a good look in the mirror to see that stupid face of his? Even three years ago, he was nothing compared to brother Ting!”
“Help, I’m laughing so hard right now!”
Amongst all the laughter, Zhang Chong suddenly stood up, a smile creeping up his face. The rest followed his line of sight and found a youth walking towards the hotel! He seemed to be a well-educated person, his look gracious and amiable. Perhaps the most special thing about him was the little chick chattering away on his shoulder.
“His lifebound beast has not evolved!” The group came to a quick conclusion. That means the manna had to still be with him!
Their wait wasn’t fruitless! The Lightning Manor’s new rule was that whoever that snatched the manna from Li Tianming would be its owner. It also meant Li Tianming’s appearance was the signal for the battle to begin.
“Look at that, the manna must be there!” From afar they could see a bulge in Li Tianming's clothes. Little did they know that that was the Spirit Core he had obtained in the well.
“What are you waiting for, go!” Jiang Tao stared at his own daughter. He didn’t want her to miss this chance.
Before he could finish his sentence, the seven youths had leapt off the third storey of the hotel. They needed to fight Li Tianming together, but deep down inside they knew only one person would get to keep the manna.
A battle was about to begin!
Li Yanfeng’s brow was knitted since the boy’s appearance. Li Tianming had arrived at the courtyard, and was only steps away from opening the gate when the seven youths halted him.
“Yanfeng, are you feeling sad for him now?” Liu Qing asked gently.
Li Yanfeng shook his head. “He chose this fate for himself. It’s nothing to do with me.”
“Hm, I’m glad you’d think this way. Once this is over, you can put aside the governor’s job for a while and follow me to Lightning Manor. The Lightning Seigneur has already accepted you as part of the family, and will assign you a greater role.”
“Got it.” Li Yanfeng nodded his head. He had already fulfilled his mission, and he was only one step away from reaching out to his dreams. He would make sure of that, even if it means sacrificing his own son...
Li Tianming had seen the people on the third floor of Halcyon Hotel long ago. All of them, his own father included, had a hawkish stance.
“He knew I’d be back, so he’s here to stop me, and help the outsiders to get the manna?” Li Tianming thought. But it wasn’t that surprising, considering how Li Yanfeng had disappointed him time and time again, so he shrugged it off a moment later.
The seven geniuses had him surrounded, and he was staring directly at Liu Qianyang too! Ultimately, one of his main goals for returning to Flamehaven was to take the Flameyellow Order back from Liu Qianyang. It has been a month since their deal, and he was ready for the battle.
The Lightning Bolt Cheetah between Liu Qianyang’s legs growled threateningly from its impatience, an action immediately mirrored by the six other beasts a second later.
It was stated clearly in Flamehaven’s laws that lifebound beasts were not allowed to battle inside the city. Therefore, the noises from the lifebound beasts had attracted many residents to peek from a distance. Coupled with those curious about the governor’s reallocation order a few days back, a crowd had already gathered, ready for a good show. Even more would join them later, which was a good thing for Li Tianming.
On the day of the selection, he had failed to properly prove himself. Now that he was surrounded by seven geniuses from Lightning Manor, it was his moment to shine! His blood was beginning to boil, and even the dark arm became so hot that anyone who touched it would be scalded.
Aside from Liu Qianyang and his Lightning Bolt Cheetah, Li Tianming saw Zhang Zixuan with his Blue-Tailed Scorpion and Jiang Yilin with her Six-Eyed Flying Fish. The scorpion’s eye seemed to have recovered a bit, which wasn’t surprising considering the amount of resources and money the Lightning Manor had.
Other than that, Li Tianming saw four other lifebound beasts, all of them five-star beasts like his Midas.
“Trying to gang up on me?!” Li Tianming glared at the seven pairs with bloodshot eyes.