Mu Wan’s voice echoed through the stadium, and the boiling sea of insults and slander began to settle. The exam carried on as per normal, and Chen Ding was called up by Mu Wan since he was queuing right behind Li Tianming.
After Mu Wan’s shout, the commotion had more or less died down. The only thing that Li Tianming noticed was that there seemed to be far less people around him right now. After all, no one wanted to associate themselves with a degenerate. Li Tianming was happy with being left alone too, since he got to relax in a corner on his own, while waiting for the second segment of the admission test to begin. The Hall of Phoenix had quite a lot of people still queuing, and it would probably take some time.
A while later, the test came to an end. The Hall of Phoenix alone had eliminated over six hundred people.
Throughout the test, Li Tianming had been keeping track of those with six-star lifebound beasts. It was true that the exam was particularly competitive this year, and eight beastmasters had appeared, each of them with high-tier six-star beasts comparable to the Hex-starred Clinquant Lion. They were from some of the most elite families and factions, like the Vermilion Bird Clan, the Occult Athenaeum, and many others.
Hmm, four years ago, Lin Xiaoting’s lifebound beasts were high-tier six-star ones too. Are there no contestants from the Lightning Manor today? Li Tianming glanced around. The best from the Lightning Manor so far was a mid-tier six-star beast, and he was curious.
Just then, Li Tianming saw a familiar face from Lightning Manor. It was Liu Qianyang! The boy with his nose broken by Li Tianming had barely passed the test with his Lightning Bolt Cheetah.
“Where did he get his Flameyellow Order from? And does that mean…Li Yanfeng, Liu Qing, they're here too?” Li Tianming scanned the stadium. Alas, the stadium was too big for him to search properly. At the same time, he could hear a new topic being brought up by the crowd.
“It’s that Lin Xiaoxiao from Lightning Manor, she’s gonna be next.”
“Four years ago, her brother got first place in the ranking test and made it straight to Heaven's Sanctum. This year I’d say it’s her turn, do you want to know why?”
“Apparently, she’s a twin beastmaster just like her brother! Having two lifebound beasts naturally means that they're two times stronger than others.”
“For real? That was Lin Xiaoting’s trump card!”
“As if twin beastmasters aren't scary enough, the two beasts that he had were some of the best beasts around.”
“You aren't wrong, a twin beastmaster would be nothing if both beasts were mere two or three star beasts.”
“If that’s the case, Lightning Manor probably has the best chance this year. That would give their family two consecutive prime disciples.”
“Incredible. Even for the Vermilion Bird Clan, that's a rare event.”
From what Li Tianming heard, this Lin Xiaoxiao was quite a sensation.
“He had a sister?” Li Tianming never knew that his archenemy had a sister. Not that it would affect his plans in any way, since Lin Xiaoxiao was just twelve years old three years ago; the incident had nothing to do with her. For now, he just treated her as one of his rivals for the upcoming ranking test, just like that Chen Yao.
It didn't take long for a girl to appear at the Hall of Manibeasts, catching everyone’s attention. Even from where he was, Li Tianming could see the girl standing out from the crowd. Her fame helped, sure, but her elegance was the main reason.
Lin Xiaoxiao was dressed in a light orange dress, and her flawless jade-like skin had a peachy glow to it. Her eyes glittered with intelligence, the long curly eyelashes swaying gently with the breeze. She had lips like roses in the morning dew, tempting anyone that saw it. She wasn’t dressed fancily, with the only accessory on her a pearl necklace that glowed faintly. She was young, about the age of fifteen, but it was already evident that she would grow up to be a beauty.
On top of her appearance, she seemed to be at ease even as the center of attention, hinting that her personality was incomparable to teens like Chen Ying. She was neither pompous nor nervous about the situation, which surprised Li Tianming, since it was unlike the usual style of Lightning Manor disciples.
“Chief mentor, may I begin the test?” She asked politely after stepping up to the invigilator’s desk.
“Sure,” The chief mentor replied with a smile, knowing that she had strength and backing that they couldn’t ignore. It was said that she had both avian and terrestrial lifebound beasts, and the chief mentors of the Hall of Manibeasts were delighted to know that she chose them over the Hall of Phoenix.
After obtaining the go-ahead, Lin Xiaoxiao summoned her two lifebound beasts from her lifebound space, sparking a heated discussion in the stadium!
“That’s the Tri-Coloured Darkthunder Bird and the Vajra Berserk Ape!”
“Both of them are lifebound beasts at the pinnacle of six-star!”
Li Tianming took a good look at the Tri-Coloured Darkthunder Bird first. It wasn’t a large beast, but its well-balanced contours suggested that it was swift and deadly. Its feathers were split into three different colours: blue, green and red. As they rustled in the air, the feathers even created tri-coloured lightning bolts that flowed across its body. The lightning sizzled as the bird soared in the air, the sound alone making people’s heads numb.
The Tri-Coloured Darkthunder Bird was no doubt an impressive lightning type avian beast, but Lin Xiaoxiao had more than that. While the bird circled around her, her Vajra Berserk Ape stood solemnly beside her like a guardian.
The giant ape was about three meters in height, with every inch of its skin covered in golden fur that resembled plate armour. Concealed beneath the fur was a burly physique, capable of crushing any foe.
Compared to the exquisite Tri-Coloured Darkthunder Bird, the Vajra Berserk Ape seemed way more brutal, its gaze filled with killing intent. Only when it looked towards Lin Xiaoxiao would its expression become more gentle.
“Vajra Berserk Ape? That’s a dual-type lifebound beast.” Li Tianming recalled reading about it in a book. Lifebound beasts were categorized by their species and types, and dual-type lifebound beasts were special creatures with, as their name implied, two different types. Theoretically, it meant that the beast would control two different kinds of power, making them more powerful.
For example, the Vajra Berserk Ape was a lightning-berserker terrestrial beast, where lightning was its main-type and berserker its sub-type. It was capable of generating lightning, as well as entering a berserk mode, which vastly improved its melee abilities.
Despite their individual prowess, the strongest member of the trio was actually the frail looking Lin Xiaoxiao. She could control the power of both beasts, meaning that she could also make use of berserker abilities. On top of that, her beast ki would be that of the two beasts combined.
The appearance of the two beasts was no doubt declaring Lightning Manor’s ambition of securing the position of prime disciple again this year. Moments after the two droplets of blood dripped onto two separate star orbs, a brilliant blue light illuminated the stadium. The intensity of each orb was slightly brighter than the Hex-starred Clinquant Lion’s, almost about to catch up with the little chick’s. But of course, with the two star orbs combined, the little chick's performance was simply no match.
“Lin Xiaoxiao, third level Spiritsource stage, with the high-tier six-star Tri-Coloured Darkthunder Bird and the high-tier six-star Vajra Berserk Ape. To have such results at the mere age of fifteen is very impressive, even for a twin beastmaster,” the chief mentor exclaimed, even praising her.
“Thank you, chief mentor.” Once her test was over, Lin Xiaoxiao quickly kept her lifebound beasts and disappeared back into the crowd. She didn’t seem to enjoy the amount of attention she was receiving.
All things considered, Lin Xiaoxiao’s test was a nice finishing touch to the first segment of the test. The few remaining disciples after her were all pretty average, and less than an hour later, everyone was done with the first segment of the test. More than one third of the youths were eliminated, leaving them no choice but to pack up and leave. Having lost their only chance, they could kiss the institute and their dreams for a bright future goodbye.
That was just half of the test, with some rejoicing and others despairing. But the chief mentors cared for none of that, as they were busy preparing for the second segment.
“For this part of the test, each of you will take part in a battle that will be graded by us, the ten chief mentors. Winning is not the only important thing, and we will observe factors such as your potential, mindset or techniques. Of course, we will also account for factors such as age differences,” one of the chief mentors explained.
“And once you have gotten our recognition, you may get the Disciple’s Order from one of the chief mentors. If you manage to secure multiple Orders, then congratulations, you get to choose your own chief mentor. But if you did not manage to get the Disciple’s Order, we will put you on hold, and if the results are still unsatisfactory you will be asked to leave the institute,” the chief mentor added on.
The rules were the same as four years ago, so Li Tianming was pretty familiar with the flow. For example, if Chief Mentor Mu Wan recognised Li Tianming’s talent, she would give him her disciple’s order, and that was basically proof that he had passed the test.
There were still close to a thousand students over at the Hall of Phoenix. This meant that there were minimally five hundred battles that would take place, which would likely take a few days. Li Tianming wasn’t willing to wait so long, since his mother was still waiting for good news back at the inn. With his abilities, the only disadvantage he had was his age, and he was sure that Chief Mentor Mu Wan would still pick him. Thus, he just wanted the battle to be over and done with, so that he could prepare for the more important ranking test.
“Li Tianming!” Just as Li Tianming was looking for an opponent to fight with, a gigantic figure called out to him from behind. He turned around to find none other than the Chen Ding that had jeered at him earlier on.
“I’m four years younger than you, and I’m at the first level of the Spiritsource stage. Do you dare to fight with me for the test?” Chen Ding stared at him coldly. “Don’t worry, maybe one of the mentors will still pick you even after you lose to me.”
“But if they reject you because of your lack of ethics, then it’s a totally different story.” Chen Ying chipped in at one side. Of course, all these were just excuses — their real goal was just to beat Li Tianming up to vent their frustration.
“Too scared to accept my challenge?” Chen Ding growled.
“More like it’s too easy to beat a stupid musclehead like you.” Li Tianming was more than happy to accept the challenge. He was worried about having to find a stronger opponent so as to cover his age disadvantage, and Chen Ding was the perfect choice for him.
First level of the Spiritsource stage? Bring it on!