Facing such a powerful enemy, Tianming couldn't be more pumped, especially since his foe was also a twin beastmaster. It was going to be a chaotic group battle. In almost an instant, the Blueflame Phoenix used its spiritsource ability, Azureflame Twister, causing countless bluish flames to descend from the sky like a tornado. Seven of them came spinning toward Tianming.
In the next instant, Ying Huo used Infernal Armor, covering Tianming within it. Had he been a little late, Tianming would no doubt be in bad shape from the sheer heat alone. The fire resistance he shared with Ying Huo gave him quite an edge this time.
However, just because he had resistance didn't mean he was immune to all attacks. The foe's beast ki was so powerful that he couldn't just take the attack head on.
"Azuremetal Wing!" Sikong Tianchen yelled, causing his phoenix’s wings to start to burn and harden like metal. Meow Meow could do nothing but dodge the wing swipes.
"You dare touch my brother? I'll show you!" Ying Huo snapped at the phoenix before it charged toward the Crimsonflame Phoenix.
"Hey pretty, look here! I'll show you what a real man should be like. That big blue chicken isn't your match."
"Buzz off!" Sikong Tianchen yelled in a rage. His lifebound beast was being harassed, and he struck back with his flaming sword ki.
"Haha!" The little chick used his Goldflame Featherblades to execute Starfall. It actually managed to infuse so much sword ki that it forced Sikong Tianchen back somewhat, much to his dismay.
How could a mere chicken use a heavenly-ranked battle art? Had he known that it was in fact a simplified saint-ranked battle art, he would have coughed out blood on the spot.
The status quo of the battle fluctuated nonstop. While Sikong Tianchen was still stupefied, Tianming and Meow Meow ganged up on the Blueflame Phoenix, with the former directly ramming it down from the sky. Even then, its wings were so hard that it caused Meow Meow to suffer some cuts, not to mention its fur started burning when it came into contact with the flames.
However, Tianming came striking right at that moment with Countercurrent. This strike of his was far more terrifying than before. Seeing that Tianming was about to take the wing off his phoenix, Sikong Tianchen finally reacted.
"You and your pesky tricks!" He used his heavenly-ranked sword art, Three Thousand Cloudmist Swords.
Having seen it in the files before, Tianming knew what the technique was. It would manifest three thousand cloudmist swords, each radiating a thousand strands of sword ki. The first strike was called Cloudtoss. The moment it was executed, the thousand strands of sword ki soared to the skies, dispersing the clouds above, then charged straight down. Beastmasters at Heavenly Will were truly formidable.
Tianming redirected his Countercurrent to neutralize at least eight hundred strands of sword ki, but the remaining two hundred struck his armor and many left some wounds on him.
"Amazing!" As expected of someone at Heavenly Will. That strike alone was far stronger than anything Yuwen Shendu could have performed.
"But of course. Why else would I say you shouldn't use swords before me?" Sikong Tianchen smirked and followed up with the next strike.
Three Thousand Cloudmist Swords, Windbreak!
This was a piercing strike that focused the thousand sword ki strands into one razor sharp strand. He sent it piercing toward Tianming's chest.
"Die!" Sikong Tianchen wasn't holding back. He knew he couldn't kill on the Throughpath, so he could simply hold back if he deemed it necessary. With his mastery over this move, he could redirect his sword intent at the last moment with ease.
Tianming closed his eyes and remained rooted to the ground. He intended to take that strike with Onyx Dragon. Initially, Ying Huo had wanted to come to his aid, having dealt with the Blueflame Phoenix, but Tianming told it to stop; he wanted to experience the sword intent of the Cloudmist Sword School first hand.
Voidgod Sword Intent, Starfall!
He stood his ground and slashed with both hands. This second clash of theirs put their sword intents on full display. Tianming had finally managed to crush all thousand strands of the opponent's sword ki, but the blowback from the strike still numbed his hands.
"Amazing!" he praised again.
"There's more to come!" Sikong Tianchen smirked again, deciding to go even harder.
Three Thousand Cloudmist Swords, Skyrush!
This was the true core of his sword intent, containing the will to rush to the skies and clouds above, breaking the celestial barrier and charging toward the heavens with one sword strike.
"Die!" Combined with his killing intent, this strike fully embodied the Heavenly Will stage's power.
All three of Sikong Tianchen's strikes had been unleashed within a span of ten breaths. They were as quick as they were ruthless—it was already impressive enough for Tianming to take two of them, but he would surely be crushed with the third!
However, what he saw was Tianming standing rooted like a mountain. He seemed to be using a similar sword stance as before, but the strength of his sword intent immediately soared to a few times what it used to be.
Voidgod Sword Intent, Cosmic Break!
Tianming had used this move to defeat Yuwen Shendu. It was fast, accurate and ruthless, embodying the will of denying the whole world. The two strikes clashed once more, causing shockwaves of rampaging sword ki to devastate the surrounding environment. Trees were uprooted, boulders were crushed, and the ground was turned to swiss cheese.
This time around, the one to be knocked away was Sikong Tianchen, his sword knocked flying and embedding itself into the ground.
"What the?!" He widened his eyes, looking at his hands in disbelief. The skin between his thumbs and index fingers had been ripped. Though it wasn't a significant injury, he didn't understand how he managed to lose out in the last clash.
His sword strike was stronger than mine! For a no-name disciple that didn't belong to the Cloudmist Sword School to have even better swordsmanship at Unity was a huge blow to him, even more than having his precious Weisheng Ruosu taken from him.
I’ve trained since I was three, and it took me fourteen years to comprehend our ancestral technique! That's what it took for me to learn Skyrush, yet I lost in terms of sword intent! His mind was empty but for that thought alone. This was no longer a matter of him being hurt; Tianming had actually bested him at the sword, even if only by a bit.
Even Tianming was shocked at the result. Sikong Tianchen was indeed a strong foe, given how Cosmic Break only gave him a slight edge. However, he wouldn't let up just because his opponent was dumbstruck and grounded.
He didn't charge toward Sikong Tianchen, but Ying Huo instead. He still didn't want to reveal all of his trump cards, after all. He felt it was enough for him to best Sikong Tianchen in swordsmanship. What mattered to him was victory, and it wouldn't do him much good to face off against Sikong Tianchen alone like a dumb fool.
By now, Ying Huo was fighting the Blueflame Phoenix. Right as the two were caught up in a messy brawl, Tianming came charging in. Despite the phoenix's fierce shriek, it wasn't able to take the pair’s joint attack. Tianming didn't hold back and punched out with his left hand, executing Skyshaker. The punch landed on the phoenix's wing, immediately tearing it open and almost breaking its bones. Ying Huo immediately picked up on his intentions and unleashed three consecutive sword strikes at the phoenix's lower abdomen, causing it to cry out in agony. The balance was immediately tipped.
"Shameless!" Sikong Tianchen watched dumbfoundedly; he thought it was supposed to be a one-on-one, yet Tianming helped Ying Huo dominate his enemy instead.
"Childish." Tianming didn't bother with him, for he knew his two lifebound beasts would proceed to terrorize Sikong Tianchen's own. There were no gentlemen's agreements in group battles.
Using Voidgod Sword Intent and the Trivita Fiendfist, he followed up each sword strike with a punch. He then used Godringer—a move that required him to fight like a mad fiend. His white hair flared up as he struck. Sikong Tianchen rushed in to block with his sword, but was sent crashing into a boulder.
"You’re courting death!" His eyes were bloodshot, and for him to still be able to stand upright, he was quite tough indeed. However, Tianming was even tougher. He used Cosmic Break once more. Though Sikong Tianchen managed to react to it, his sword was still sent flying again. Tianming then pierced his dragonformed sword into Sikong Tianchen’s lower abdomen.
Right as he was about to curse, Tianming smashed his face in, sending his head crashing against the boulder once more. Sikong Tianchen's eyes rolled back in his head as he collapsed like a fish out of water. It was finally over.
Tianming clapped his hands clean. It wasn't an easy fight, though he had many tricks up his sleeve and was ruthless enough to use them. It was easy to clean up once the balance of the fight had tipped in his favor.
Turning back, he saw that Ying Huo had made sure that the Blueflame Phoenix was poked full of holes. It knelt and begged as it cried for mercy.
As for the Crimsonflame Phoenix, it could no longer fight, especially after seeing its master and comrade defeated. The poison from Meow Meow's claws was quickly wearing it down. The battle ended with beastmaster and lifebound beasts all defeated. While Sikong Tianchen wasn't knocked out, he was at least shaken enough to be dazed.
"So, does my swordcraft pass?" Tianming asked.
"Psssht!" Sikong Tianchen spat out some saliva, only for it to land back on his face.
"Glad you think so. I hope you don't go around boasting like that again."
Tianming’s words almost made Sikong Tianchen faint from anger. He didn't say he passed; he was only trying to spit! Right as he was about to snap, Tianming gave him a stomp on a face as he passed by, burying his head deeper into the mud.
"Mmmmff!" Mud flowed into Sikong Tianchen's mouth as he struggled to breathe. The bad-tasting mud, coupled with his messed up stomach and pierce wound, made for a recipe of searing pain. He paled from the sensation as cold sweat formed. If it weren’t for his strong will, he’d have been begging for mercy. Even after Tianming stopped stomping, he looked completely haggard as he crawled back up, breathing desperately.
Eyes bloodshot, he howled, "Your swordsmanship is indeed strong. To be honest, I'm impressed. But you're too sneaky. There's no way you'll reach any real heights with that attitude! Not to mention, you're too arrogant. The Elysian Children saw all of your moves, not to mention the other two Heavenly Will beastmasters from the Onyx Sect! An affront to me is an affront to them! The moment you step into the Realm Wars will be the start of your nightmare!"
He shut his mouth so hard that it hurt.
"Thanks for your concern. You can go home to your sword school now."
Fan Wutian had already been sent running off by him, so all that remained were Sikong Tianchen and Jing Xuan. There was no way they would be able to step through the gate with Tianming around.
Though Sikong Tianchen had wanted to say something else, he only noticed how embarrassingly he had lost after seeing how Weisheng Ruosu looked at him. It wasn't even disdainful; she simply looked at him tepidly. It oozed so much disinterest that he could feel his heart bleeding out, only for it to worsen when he saw her smile at Tianming.
Alas, there was nothing he could do about it. All he could do was hope the Elysian Children and onyx disciples could make Tianming's life a living hell.Previous Chapter Next Chapter