“Sis Qin, your son Chen Ding is up!”
“What a bold young man! He immediately leapt up to fight first as soon as the practical test started!”
“He must have reached the Spiritsource stage already. My Ying’er is still stuck in the ninth level Beast Vein.”
“Don’t worry. Ying’er will definitely reach Spiritsource within half a month.”
“Those two kids have such a good relationship. How enviable. After they enter, they’ll be able to train and improve together inside.”
“Right, sis Qin. Still, who would dare fight Chen Ding?”
Xue Lan, who was in between them, raised an eyebrow as the conversation grew heated. “Just watch a little longer and we’ll find out, no?”
Her mood wasn’t good, perhaps because Li Tianming had turned out to be stronger than expected. Her one sentence immediately made the atmosphere awkward, leaving the ladies present reluctant to continue. They didn’t know what was the reason for her foul mood, and didn’t want to set her off.
A white-clothed, slender young man who looked intelligent appeared in front of Chen Ding, under the women’s rapt attention. He gave off a gentle and refined impression, and the calmness in his eyes seemed to imply a maturity unfitting his age. The slight smirk in the corner of his mouth was a window to his current emotions.
If something unusual about him had to be described, it would be his left arm that was covered in dense white cloth, as well as the gloved hand. It gave his manner of dress a slightly heretic feel.
“That’s Li Tianming!”
“He dares to challenge Chen Ding…I remember Chief Mentor Mu Wan declaring that he’s in the ninth level of the Beast Vein stage!”
“He’s older than Chen Ding by three or four years, but still lagging behind him in cultivation. He has nothing going for him other than a lifebound beast with high stars.”
“He’s not going to have any chance to show his abilities when Chen Ding crushes him.”
“Right. I wouldn’t be surprised if he's directly eliminated. He’s almost overage.”
“He’s asking for trouble.”
The women were all surprised at Li Tianming’s actions.
“Sisters, this is Ding’er’s first time participating in such an important battle. So, I’m not placing too much expectations on him.”
“Sis Qin, don’t be so humble! Everyone knows young master Chen Yao has been helping Ding’er and teaching him much.”
The women giggled. “Teaching an indecent rascal a lesson is a walk in the park.”
“Correct. Chen Ding can definitely do so.” Xue Lan, who had been quiet all this time, finally joined in with a smile, and the women around her finally relaxed.
While the ladies were chatting, the battle onstage had started.
Many people were spectating this fight, as anyone with the courage to go first was definitely full of confidence. After all, everyone was choosing their opponents cautiously to gain a chance to show off their talents and skills to the fullest. Of course, it was also to avoid a humiliating defeat.
The five halls had five stages, which meant five matches went on concurrently. The most eye-catching was Li Tianming and Chen Ding’s match.
Chen Ding’s beast had already shown itself. It was a high-tier five-star Magical Star Roc, which was a star-type avian beast. Its body was huge and its purple feathers started to glisten when it unfurled its wings. From behind, it did seem reminiscent of a starfield, bright and imposing.
In comparison, the little chick on Li Tianming’s shoulder just looked yellow and tender, like a delicacy.
No one would have believed it was a higher tier than the Magical Star Roc if it hadn’t been tested with the star orb.
Chen Ding was stretching his muscles and looking serious as he prepared to end Li Tianming with one hit, when the little chick asked pretentiously, “Serious question. Is your lifebound beast male or female?”
“What are you parroting? How does gender matter?” Chen Ding stepped forward, as his fist shot out, covered in starlight. The power contained within left the air shaking.
“Well, I’ll neuter it if it were a male. If it was female, mhm…” The little chick placed its wings on its hips, leering.
The roc was displeased to hear this, and let out a shrill shriek as it exploded with killing intent.
“Aiii, what a uncouth voice. Another male! Being born the wrong gender was your sin. Tianming, sic ’em!” Normally, it was the beastmaster that commanded the lifebound beast, and yet it was the other way round here...
“Weren’t you supposed to be my mount?” Li Tianming asked, amused.
“You nugget, YOU’RE the mount,” the little chick said coolly.
The way they were bantering lightheartedly in battle left Chen Ding furious. He used a basic source-ranked battle art, the Shooting Star Fist. The fist would become a shooting star, with power shocking to all! He was fully confident in sending Li Tianming flying in one punch. He would kill two birds with one stone, teach Li Tianming a lesson and enter the institute.
However, the moment his fist landed, Li Tianming’s figure simply shimmered, vanishing like a mirage. In his confusion, Chen Ding believed that he had literally obliterated Li Tianming for a moment or so.
“What kind of speed is that? Aren’t you embarrassed as a Spiritsource cultivator?” A voice rang out right next to his ear, and Chen Ding began to have some misgivings.
He instantly responded and punched out, but Li Tianming’s body simply vanished like a mirage again. That was when Chen Ding realised the entire stage was filled with flickering mirages, each of them lasting for quite a few moments before vanishing!
Speed was Chen Ding’s weakness, and he wasn’t able to make a snap judgement of Li Tianming’s position.
“This has to be an intermediate source-ranked battle art!” Chen Ding recalled how he had met Li Tianming buying four battle arts at the Chen & Xing Repository’s section for source-ranked battle arts. Could he have learnt it in just a few days? The thought brought a chill to Chen Ding’s heart.
He himself had spent a whole month to polish his Shooting Star Fist, but this wasn’t the time to be shocked. When he charged forward, Li Tianming and him brushed past each other. The next moment, Li Tianming was laying siege to the roc, together with his Blazingly Fiery Birdie!
“Take this! Netherfire Ghostclaw!” The Confounding Mirage Walk was very suited for the little chick given its small size relative to the Star Magic Roc, as that made Ying Huo even more elusive.
Li Tianming had focused on Nine Flying Bolts and Confounding Mirage Walk these few days, and had yet to touch the Netherfire Ghostclaw.
However, Ying Huo had reached a level of proficiency with the Confounding Mirage Walk and Netherfire Ghostclaw. As a Primordial Chaos Beast, the little chick was still leagues ahead in comprehension abilities compared to other lifebound beasts, even with bloodline shackles. Despite how unassuming its tiny claws were, even steel walls wouldn’t survive in their wake.
Using the Confounding Mirage Walk, it instantly moved to the Star Magic Roc’s chest area, where it gouged out a chunk of meat from it!
The roc was strong — it was in Spiritsource after all. However, it was too big, which worked to its disadvantage as it couldn’t catch the little chick. Worse still, Li Tianming had jumped over Chen Ding to target it too!
There was a saying that in the beast vein stage, beastmaster and lifebound beast were equals. However, the beast would surpass the master in the Spiritsource stage.
That was because Spiritsource stage lifebound beasts would gain access to their spiritsource ability. It was a kind of bloodline ability, separate from battle arts, and seized from wildbeasts.
If the roc was allowed to use it and they were hit, the battle would ramp up in difficulty. So, the duo had decided to focus it down first, using their advantage in speed and movement arts.
Li Tianming’s right hand took out the Thunderfire Chain he had liberated from Liu Qianyang. Spirit fire and lightning crackled on its surface. At the same instant the little chick launched his Netherfire Ghostclaw attack, Li Tianming used the Nine Flying Bolt’s first move to land a blow on the roc’s back.
Although they were still eighth level Beast Vein, the Aeternal Infernal Beast Ki burned fiercely; both master and beast were able to execute their moves to their fullest potential. A few moments was enough for Li Tianming and the little chick to flay the Magical Star Roc alive, leaving it howling miserably.
“Li Tianming, you cur!” Chen Ding gnashed his teeth in fury when he turned to look at what had happened. He had never expected Li Tianming was fast enough to bypass him and gang up on the Magical Star Roc, reducing it to a bloody mess before two breaths had even passed.
After heavily injuring the roc, Li Tianming quickly turned around to block Chen Ding.
The little chick would take over for the roc. He would take on Chen Ding alone.
As the mirages continued to flicker, the Thunderfire Chain descended from the sky towards Chen Ding like a bolt of lightning!